We’ve never been to France or Italy, but it’s definitely on our to-go list. Some of the best restaurants and chefs hail from France, so it’s no surprise that these restaurants, such as Le Bernadin, are ridiculously expensive. As two medical students, our loans prevent us from enjoying these luxuries. As we think about the future, however, it would still be hard to dish out over $100/plate. This is where Tessa comes in.
Tessa is located right next to the infamous Levain Bakery, so it’s easy to miss when lines of anxious cookie-lovers wrap around the front entrance of this establishment. At first glance Tessa looks small, with in-your-face bar seating and a small outdoor seating area. This is deceiving. Upon venturing inside, Tessa is a romantic daydream. Lined with dim lighting and stone-brick walls, Tessa can accompany even the largest party due to its large seating area in the back. We opted to sit in the small outdoor patio for convenience, and better lighting.
The menu is quite short, with a small variety of pasta dishes paying homage to Italy and their second entrees that were quite French in nature. Our first dish was the grilled branzino with fingerling potatoes and fennel puree. The fish was well-done, and paired with the broccoli rabe and purees it made for a delicious bite. At $32 the price was steep for medical students on a budget, but relatively comparable for similar French cuisines in the area.
The best dish of the night: shrimp bucatini with seared prawn. The nice thing about Tessa is that each pasta dish can be ordered in either a half portion or full portion. Since we knew we would be stopping into Levain after dinner for dessert, we opted for the half portion, which was more than enough for two. The pasta was slightly al dente, which is what we enjoy, and the prawns were the right portion to finish the meal with enough seafood to taste in each bite.
After enjoying this restaurant for the first time, we ended up traveling back to Tessa again, this time to try the seasonal lobster bucatini. It was even more flavorful than the shrimp bucatini, which neither one of us thought was possible.
Tessa NYC is definitely a treat for anyone on a budget who enjoys upscale French and Italian food. We would say stop into Tessa NYC for amazing pasta and, unless you’re not on a budget, you can skip the fish until next time.
Overall Rating: 14.6/15
349 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10024