TESSA: An Upper West Side Mediterranean Spot That Will Have You Saying “MMMM”!

I recently went to TESSA for the first time and was immediately blown away by it’s wide open space (no “close seating” here) and the gorgeous criss cross iron lattice work on the ceiling. It gives a loft space feel but somehow TESSA still feels warm and like a “neighborhood place.”

When you sit down, you are offered an immense wine list but I really fell in love with their homemade herbal/fruit drinks and an incredible cherry fountain soda made with their Italian cherry syrup. (Yes, they make the syrup themselves and it is not sweet as you might expect–it tastes earthy and natural!) This is not on the drink menu so be sure to speak up to the wait staff to get one.

The Italian peasant bread at the table has a nice chewy crust and it is served with butter immersed in OVOO with paprika other spices. This is an incredible taste sensation but do not fill up on bread because TESSA has incredible pasta, sandwiches, omelettes and fish dishes (I went there for lunch and wanted to taste ALL the selections)!

So I admit that I gorged myself on a variety of things. I started with the Salumi & Cheese Plate from the Small Plates selection. There was fantastic prosciutto,  cured pork, French style pickles and a selection of Saxelby cheese that I adored.  This is a big starter that is perfect for two diners!

The best entree pick for the health conscious (although there are several choices) is the Tuna & Stonefruit, which is diced Ahi tuna, avocado, stonefruit and quinoa molded together very elegantly and topped with sherry viniagrette. It is surrounded by about a cup of butter lettuce which is fabulously tender and straight from farm-to-table.

For burger lovers like myself, I could not leave without trying the TESSA Burger medium rare with their their fabulous Rosemary Fries. This burger makes my Top 10 Burgers Of New York City list in a heartbeat! It is made of 100 Angus beef, topped with pancetta, tomato and carmelized onion. It is a very large burger (the patty is probably 10 ounces before cooking) and I will be headed back to TESSA for another one in the next couple of weeks. Loved the soft, old-fashioned home-baked white roll as well!

My dining partner Joyce and I then decided to share the Vegetable Zucca, which is adorable pumpkin-shaped pasta topped with spring onion, chayote, baby heirloom tomatoes and basil pesto. There was stringy Parmesan cheese on top as well. This pasta dish is very filling and an absolute must for pesto conniseurs!

TESSA takes great pride in making fantastic ice cream, sorbets and panna cotta, so my guest and I split the panna contta  with a side of dulche de leche ice cream and slices organic peaches. This was a wonderful flavor combo and I loved the fresh vanilla bean taste of the panna cotta. We also split some wonderfully fresh tasting pineapple mint and blueberry sorbets which were exceptional.

My hats got off to TESSA’s executive chef Eric Cope for this highly inventive and well-executed menu. I admire the price range ($10-18 for starters and $15-19 for entrees) and the generous portions–I adore the quality of the food the most, but that goes without saying.

For more info on this wonderfully inventive eaterie at 349 Amsterdam Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets, go to http://www.tessanyc.com. Reservations are not required. Phone number is 212-390-1874