By Hillary Latos
Though the ancient Greek definition of Tessa is “harvester” or reaper, over the years the urban dictionary slang for tessa is asset spelled backwards meaning the beautiful and perfect female embodiment that everyone loves and cherishes. Judging by the scene at this latest UWS hotspot we couldn’t think of a more perfect name. The fresh and delicately prepared Mediterranean cuisine is only matched by the stunning décor.
Tessa is one of those places that incorporated the elements of a trendy destination restaurant- the décor is industrial yet warm with exposed brick and reclaimed wood lined walls, gunmetal furniture, and lighting diffused by accordion style security grates. It’s helmed by a buzzworthy Alsatian chef, Cedric Tovar from Bobo and Rosemary fame, who has married the best of French and Italian to create a rustic Mediterranean menu. Start with a cocktail at the ground level bar which is populated with well heeled denizens of the neighborhood. Upstairs is the inviting 75 person dining room. For an intimate experience choose the skylit wine cellar room surrounded by wines curated by sommelier Drew Shields formerly from Daniel and David Burke who selected the best of the Mediterranean vineyards for their 60 plus bottle wine list.
Start with the hand cured charcuterie board or classic Mediterranean provisions like homemade burrata, or smoked eggplant dip. For appetizers each dish is presented like art, such as the razor clam escabech with the piperade and mignonette marinating in the shell, or the perfectly grilled Atlantic Rouget complemented with a fennel marmalade and Esplette pepper. All the pasta is made in house and the lobster spaccatelli is perfectly balanced with chanterelles and laced with a tarragon emulsion, and the grilled shrimp bucatini shines with the fresh summer flavors of corn puree, yellow squash and piquillo peppers.
While nothing speaks of perfection more than fresh grilled Mediterranean entrees, their specialty is the classic cote de boeuf for 2 with an Angus bone in rib eye and bone marrow, and the Berkshire pork chop which is tender and ladled with a savory pork jus. Chef Tovar also displays his Alsatian culinary techniques with the sumptuous and rich braised Berkshire pork cheeks with pecorino polenta, steamed striped bass tagine, and roasted monkfish loin with the classic French mustard agrodolce.
Finish your perfect meal on a sweet note with the luscious lavender and ginger panna cotta with a prosecco sabayon and amaretto pizzel tuile or for a light refresher try one of their house made infused sorbets like apricot Riesling, lemon basil, or raspberry earl grey.