Livin’ on a prayer — and some killer anchovies

for The Brooklyn Paper
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These fresh and tasty anchovies are wanted: dead and fried.

Smorgasburg hordes are clamoring for a taste of Neil and Renae Holland’s crispy fishies, and their brainchild, called Bon Chovie, is close to achieving a rabid fan base seldom seen since that of their namesake, Bon Jovi (circa 1986, of course).

“We showed up at Smorgasburg on day one and sold out in a manner of a few hours,” said Renae. “We couldn’t believe how excited people were.”

The husband-and-wife duo is as surprised as anyone by how readily Brooklyn’s foodies have embraced the oft-maligned anchovy — so often the butt of culinary punch lines.

Of course, the clever name doesn’t hurt.

“The dream is for our business to mirror the longevity that Bon Jovi has demonstrat­ed,” laughed Neill. “That’s our main inspiration. And admittedly, it doesn’t hurt to have a catchy name.”

Bon Chovie’s anchovy treats — which can be ordered “original,” with the head and tail removed, or the quick-and-dirty “Jersey-style,” which is the full, uncleaned fish — are flash fried and sprinkled with sea salt, then sided with paprika aioli and pickled peppers for $6.

The unlikely success of their small-bait business has allowed Neill and Renae to consider a real future in fish.

“We’re trying to pick up another market, maybe introduce a few new menu items,” said Renae. “We could do a truck, a packaged product, a restaurant. There are so many ways to go.”

Needless to say, they’re gonna hold on to what they’ve got.

Find Bon Chovie at Smorgasburg (East River between N. Sixth and N. Seventh streets in Williamburg, no phone), Saturdays, 9 am-5 pm. For info, visit

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018
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