Seaport Report, week of July 2, 2015: Dorlan’s, the new Stella opens

Photo by HannabrakeyDSLR@instagram HEY STELLA, WHAT COMES AFTER SANDY…Jeremy Dahm, left, and Fernando Dallorso outside their new Front St. restaurant, Dorlan’s Tavern.  Stella, their previous restaurant at the same spot,  closed nearly three years ago because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Photo by HannabrakeyDSLR@instagram
HEY STELLA, WHAT COMES AFTER SANDY…Jeremy Dahm, left, and Fernando Dallorso outside their new Front St. restaurant, Dorlan’s Tavern. Stella, their previous restaurant at the same spot, closed nearly three years ago because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.

BY JANEL BLADOW  |    Can’t believe it’s already mid-year and top of the summer. Time has wings.

Everything new is old….An old neighbor returns with a new name and new look. What was Stella Bistro is reborn as Dorlan’s Tavern & Oyster Bar at 213 Front St.

“We always loved the neighborhood and neighbors. Love the community,” said co-owner Fernando Dallorso, one of the people who also helped start the annual Taste of the Seaport event to support Spruce Street School.

“We always had plans to come back. Now our dream has come true.”

Dorlan’s opened last week with early dinner — “to get the machine’s tested and back in the game.” Lunch began this week Monday to Friday. Brunch Saturdays and Sundays and dinner seven days a week —will be up and running by mid-July.

Stella, which originally opened in 2007, was destroyed when Hurricane Sandy swept through the Front St. restaurant leaving a wake of mayhem and muck behind. It’s taken nearly three years and more than a half-million dollars but the phoenix that has risen in 2,300-square foot space is definitely more fitting for the Seaport.

“We have a different name and different concept. I always thought the neighborhood needed a seafood restaurant,” Dallorso told Seaport Report.

He and business partner Jeremy Dahm opened up the kitchen (bright with white subway tiles) and lightened the walls. The look was refreshed with warm woods, copper accents and industrial steel furniture.

“We got the brass lantern light fixtures from a ship salvage yard,” he said. “We want the original Seaport feel but not tacky.”

The menu also reflects a reborn seafront. Fresh chowders, fish and chips, lobster rolls and ceviche are just a few of the mouthwatering items. Right now they have a list of between four and six kinds of oysters but hope to expand with up to 12 varieties delivered daily.

“We have the half shell, oyster po’boys and fried oyster B.L.T.”

During the week, the back room will be “Dorlan to-go,” Mondays through Fridays. Catering to the FiDi lunch crowds who want something a little special but fast, takeout includes salads, sandwiches and smoothies.

“They can get a good lunch for $20,” Dallorso said.

Weekends beginning in mid-July, the room transforms for a family brunch crowd.

“Parents can bring their kids, strollers and crayons. We want to cater to that very highly,” said Dallorso, who has a 10–year–old.

They chose the name and style after a fisherman who opened one of the first oyster bars in the city.  And they want to harken back to seaport of 200 years ago. “Celebrities and politicians, common people and aristocrats all came down here to eat fresh seafood, so I went back to a favorite about the neighborhood, ‘The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell,’ by Mark Kurlansky.

He writes that “The Fulton Street Market was celebrated by locals and visitors as the place to get late-night oysters…Sweet’s was a famous restaurant that opened in 1847. Dorlon’s (this is how Kurlansky spelled it; it was cited in other books and papers as Dorlan’s) was an extremely popular oyster bar.”

Alas, this oyster bar is long, long gone. And so are the other historic seafood eateries. Sweet’s went the way of all mom-pop second floor restaurants in 1992 and Sloppy Louie’s got the hook six years later. Carmine’s Italian Seafood restaurant — around for 107 years — held on the longest and got the boot in June 2010.

So welcome Dorlan’s Tavern & Oyster Bar!

The whaler – not wailer – wife…Our little neck of the urban jungle hosts the world premiere of a new folk concert/play, “SeaWife,” by The Naked Angels, a Downtown theater company, and an indie rock band, The Lobbyists.

Photo by Caitlin McNaney Eloïse Eonnet and Will Turner in SeaWife, which is playing at the South Street Seaport Museum.  Photo by Caitlin McNaney
Eloïse Eonnet and Will Turner in SeaWife, which is playing at the South Street Seaport Museum.

Part play-part concert, SeaWife is a cautionary tale of romance, tragedy and spirits on the high seas. Created by Seth Moore and the indie-folk rock sextet, the production has a limited summer run through July 19 at South Street Seaport Museum’s Melville Gallery, 213 Water St.

Audiences will hoist a pint of ale as they follow the adventures of a young sailor (Percy) during the golden age of America’s whaling industry as he travels through port cities in search of greater glory.

“I am beyond thrilled that, for my inaugural production as Naked Angels’ artistic director, we are able to bring this riveting piece of theater to life,” said newly appointed Liz Carlson, who also directs. “SeaWife…draws from the fascinating world of the 19th-century whaling industry — so it was our dream from day one that this piece would find its physical home within that same world. South Street Seaport is our city’s most remarkable historic district, and…following Hurricane Sandy, we are honored to be a part of the movement to reestablish the extraordinary energy and activity the Seaport held for so many centuries.”

SeaWife will play Tuesday through Sunday at 7 p.m., with an additional performance at 11 p.m. on July 3. No performances on July 4. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at BrownPaperTickets.com.

Bad news, good news…The Seaport made a list of historical places, but not in a good way. The National Trust has released its list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” for 2015. And we’re on it! But actually this is good news because now the nation knows that we risk losing another rare treasure of our historic past.

Since 1988 the list has identified more than 250 sites, galvanizing preservation so that only 12 have been lost (JFK’s Worldport Terminal made the list and was demolished in 2013).

According to the National Trust’s website “The Seaport’s restored 19th-century commercial buildings transport visitors back in time, evoking the commercial trade of that era….The South Street Seaport is unique for its continuous relationship to the waterfront and its status as the focal point of the early maritime industry in New York City.

“While the Seaport is a locally designated historic district, and is separately listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is currently under threat due to a series of development proposals that would disrupt the look, feel and low-scale historic character of the Seaport.”

Let’s hope this new designation earns a positive place in our history.

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