TESSA is a modern Mediterranean tavern in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Executive Chef Eric Cope and his team take traditional Italian, French, and Spanish dishes and transform them using seasonal produce and artisanal products. Here, they have created an extensive menu with shared plates, appetizers, home made pastas, and exciting main dishes that are perfect for sharing!
Not only is the food fabulous, but TESSA also offers sixteen wines by the glass, ten beers on tap, and a bottle list of over one hundred labels ranging in prices. As you walk into this sleek and sultry Mediterranean tavern, you are greeted with warm smiles and a very attentive staff. The service is excellent, and I guarantee you will enjoy every minute here from your first sip to your last bite.
I started off with an El Diablo cocktail made with Jalapeno infused Espolon Blanco Tequila, Cactus Pear, Bitter Lemon, and Sriracha Salt. This spicy and creative cocktail was out of this world, delicious! Since TESSA has daily wine specials, I decided to switch to wine after my cocktail. I started with a beautiful and fragrant glass of the 2014 Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem from Languedoc-Rroussillon, France. Paired was the Burrata with watercress, beet carpaccio, hazlenuts, aged balsamic, sea salt, and olive oil toast as well as the Tuna Tartare, with freshly diced Ahi tuna, spring gazpacho, radishes, pickled ramps, and candied garlic. Both dishes went incredibly well with the light and elegant rosé, and would absolutely be a perfect pairing.
At TESSA you have a knowledgeable staff and a winning management team to take care of your needs for the evening, so if you’re in need of some pairing suggestions, Patrick Duxbury, TESSA’s General Manager is your go-to guy! Up next were more perfect food and wine pairings. Wine number two was a crisp and chalk driven Chablis paired with the Cauliflower Frito Misto and the Octopus a la Plancha. The Octopus is very colorful and beautifully plated with squash caponata, green olive tapenade, orange zest, frisée, and aged balsamic, which works very well with a chablis. The Cauliflower however, is topped with crispy garlic, turmeric, chermoula, yogurt, and jalapeño, and was absolutely addicting when paired with this high acid but smooth French white wine.
Here at TESSA they make their own pasta in house and it’s out of this world, yum! The Rabbit Cavatelli with rabbit and pancetta ragu, smoked onion, lovage coulis, and chives is savory, smokey, and is a great dish to share. On the other hand, if you’re a seafood fan, i’d recommend the Lobster Bucatini with porcini shellfish sauce, ramp emulsion, and oregano. This seafood pasta comes topped with plenty of delicious lobster and is full of flavor.
Wait a minute…seafood and rabbit? What in the world would you pair if you had one glass of wine to choose with these dishes? Well, thanks to Patrick, his suggestion of the 2010 Luigi Nervi, Gattinara from Piedmont, Italy was a winner and paired perfectly with both delectable dishes.
As mentioned in the beginning, TESSA has some great main dishes for those seeking something larger. I very much enjoyed the Hanger Steak Frites, with sun dried tomato chimichurri, crispy shallot, beef jus, and grilled romaine. The sides here are a must have, so save room for the Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Stone Ground Polenta! This main with some sides paired beautifully with a glass of the Super Tuscan Blend, Poggio Ai Ginepri, Bolgheri. After all that wine, it was time for something sweet. TESSA has an amazing selection of sorbet with flavors like: Pineapple Mint, Tangerine, and Blackberry. I enjoyed a trio of sorbet as well the Baked Alaska, which is absolutely to die for! This dessert is one of a kind, sweet and also sensational, with chocolate and vanilla hazelnut crunch, ice cream, a brownie layer, torched meringue, and passion fruit sauce.
The pineapple mint I think was honestly the best sorbet I have ever had! It’s cool and refreshing with just the perfect amount of pineapple to mint balance; this would also be ideal as a palate cleanser in between tons of TESSA’s flavorful courses.
Next time you’re on the Upper West Side you should absolutely make a reservation or pop by the bar at TESSA for any and all of the above dishes and wines mentioned. I guarantee this Mediterranean tavern will win your heart as it did mine. Always remember eat what you like, and drink what you love… please pair responsibly!