Cozy Royale Plates the Present Moment

Two of Cozy Royale’s summer suppers where seasonal stone fruits play a part of dressing.

Cozy Royale is a happening hot-spot located on 434 Humboldt Street.  Here’s some context for the words “happening” and “hot-spot”, recently this restaurant was named to two Best New …  lists: Grub Street’s list of 66 best new (or newly relevant) places to eat  and Condé Nast Traveler’s Best New Restaurants in the World: 2021 — Hot List.  Lest these rankings intimidate, keep in mind co-owner Brent Young’s goal for Cozy Royale is to be a neighborhood tavern — be reliable, and “A reliable neighborhood restaurant has a table for you,” said Young.  He explained that even though Friday and Saturday nights can be crazy busy like most places, you can usually catch a seating the rest of the week.

Speaking of catch, Samantha La Manna is the head chef.  She previously worked at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster and 11 Madison Park.  The former means she brings an expertise with fish and seafood and the latter a knowledge of working with seasonal and local ingredients.  The fish and seafood element brought a flare of the new to Cozy Royale’s menu and owners, Brent Young and Ben Turley, who also own the Meat Hook, a whole animal butcher shop located at 397 Graham Avenue.  The Meat Hook specializes in local meat from small, family-run farms and also stocks local produce and pantry items.  Cozy Royale’s menu features the owner’s expertise from The Meat Hook.

Is a there a more literal way to live in the moment than to eat that which respects the present?  Cozy Royale’s cuisine holds true to locovore and seasonal aesthetics.  The menu is ever evolving and Young said, “It has to do with sourcing from farms: all seasonal, all local playing to the exceptional nature of the ingredients but not super seriously.  We like to have fun in the presentation and concept.  The sourcing of meat and produce is so high quality.”  Items on the menu are determined by what is available and what ingredients they want to feature.  The menu changes weekly to monthly and evolves with what the seasons provide.

Young sees business is growing and feels they are reintroducing themselves to the neighborhood in a way.  Via the Meat Hook, “We’ve supported home cooks for a very long time, but home cooks need a night out,” said Young.  He’s seen many of Meat Hook’s regulars at Cozy Royale.  In future they want to do more private events and parties.  When asked if there have been any surprises he said, “Restaurants don’t get any easier.  They show you anything you do can always be better, which is a good mindset.  Be proud but push forward.”

Building community is an impetus supporting the Meat Hook’s approach, and Cozy Royale bolsters this idea further. “We wanted the butcher shop to be like a corner bar and now we have a corner bar.  A place to have a drink and a meal and anything in between.  Community is an enormous part of it for us,” said Young.  When asked if there are any future goals Young said, “One week at time right now.  The restaurant and burger shops are the 10-year plan for the Meat Hook.”  He explained that the way a whole animal butcher shop works means they know the certain amount of ground beef a cow will produce and the certain amount of trim a pig will yield and how best to allocate that as some cuts are better sold out of a butcher shop and others are better for a restaurant.  “It’s super cool to recognize that goal,” said Young.

Community was also important at Cozy Royale’s start.  The owners of Humboldt and Jackson asked if Young and Turley would take over the spot from them.   In February 2020 the Meat Hook’s Instagram announced the plan to open Cozy Royale that May.  Then COVID-19 struck.  Young and Turley decided to put off the opening because the Meat Hook was so busy and its day-to-day responsibilities took all of their focus.  Cozy Royale’s lease had been signed pre-COVID times and fortunately Joann Merker, their landlord, was on their side.  Together they formed a relationship of mutual trust and Young and Turley arranged to pay what they could for the space while it was dormant.  They wanted to open as soon as possible, but they also wanted to open at the best time.  Cozy Royale opened on September 10, 2020.  “When people were feeling comfortable to go out again.  It was the best-case scenario and worst-case hospitality — you don’t want to police anyone, but you have a responsibility to staff and other customers that are acting responsibly,” said Young.

As normality increases the future looks brighter.  But it’s always good to know where you are in the present. 

Cozy Royale is at 434 Humboldt Street.  Hours of operation: Monday–Friday from 5 p.m.–11 p.m. & Saturday-Sunday from 12 p.m.–11 p.m.  To make reservations: https://resy.com/cities/ny/cozy-royale?date=2021-07-06&seats=2  Cozy Royale is hiring. They are looking for cooks, servers, and bartenders. For more information check out the website: www.cozyroyale.com

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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