My experience at TESSA was better than words could allow me to describe but I’ll still give it a shot. Before I walked into the restaurant I passed through this charming patio area with ferns, optional outdoor seating with the overhead decorated in stringing lights. Be sure to take a minute to relish in all that or snatch a cute photo-op. Once I entered, I was warmly greeted by the very kind hostess staff. She asked if I would like a drink at the bar prior to being seated and even offered to hang up my coat. My friend and I were seated at a candlelit table for four in the upper section that was both romantic and intimate. The entire space was absolutely beautiful with this wooden artistic detail, faded brick wall design, and glistening wine cellar that illuminated the back of the room. The lower section is a social space with a lengthy, fully stocked bar table opposite a row of high top tables. The ambience at TESSA exudes this air of upscale rustic elegance; it’s truly lovely.
The manager Germania came over to our table shortly and introduced herself; little did I know, I was about to endure the easily-graded BEST service I’ve enjoyed to date. She was an absolute sweetheart with her playful conversation, her apparent love for her job and coworkers, her attention to detail, and her focus to making sure that my friend and I were at our happiest all evening long. A restaurant can be excellent on its own, but with a combination of delicious food and wonderful service from the staff, the restaurant becomes a place of home.
As we read through the menu, there was a particular delicacy my friend and I needed to try - the Drunken Mussels. Ugh yum - I’m having foodie flashbacks. Germania took care of us and ensured we tried out the best cuisines- our stomachs and hearts were unprepared. Turn by turn, Germania brought us out dish after dish. I slowly floated away to food heaven.
As my friend and I happily sipped on our glasses of Sauvignon Blonc and Pinot Noir, the first round of plates came out. They were the drool-worthy appetizers: the Drunken Mussels and the Flaked Salmon Tartare.
The Flaked Salmon Tartare dish presented this salmon that tasted so fresh it immediately melted in my mouth on the first bite. The fish was topped off with a little cucumber, pomegranate, zesty onion slices, and black sesame all drizzled in saffron aioli. The scallion pita bread that came paired beside it was lightly crisped and so yummmmmy. An appetizer MUST.
The Drunk Mussels - I could not get enough of. The portion size is large enough for an entire table to dig into happily. The mussels are swimming in this deep what feels like bottomless spiced tomato sauce that makes you wish you were also swimming in it. Ugh. Too good.
The Berkshire Porkchop was my personal favorite of the entree selection - a classic staple of TESSA’s legendary menu. The meat was thick, juicy, and so tender. I wish angry at my stomach for being unable to finish it all. If you’re unsure what to order, choose this - trust me on this one.
Germania brought us out this dish next - the Mushroom Risotto. This creatively designed dish is packed with different flavors. The texture is soft at every bite with nibbles of grainy rice. The cream of mushroom taste is so prominent - it is to die for. There's a slow poached egg in the center of the dish that blends an additional flavor into the mix. Even though my stomach was full, I finished off this plate to the very end. No regrets!
Now, the dessert. OMG. I would come back any time of day to simply get my hands back on that dessert menu. Germania brought us out two plates - the Baked Alaska and the Bomboloni. Seriously. I melted with every bite.
The Baked Alaska was not only beautiful to look at - but it was intricately designed in this soft, fluffy creme that was both sweet and tangy. The bottom layer includes this chocolate crunch. Just - ugh. Pure cosmic perfection. If you have a sweet tooth, shame on you for not trying this out sooner.
The Bomboloni is pure sugary genius. These small stuffed churro-like doughnuts are coated in this sweet glaze. When you take a bite, this delicious pudding-like cream of heaven comes oozing out. All doughnuts should immediately be replaced with balls of Bomboloni. IMMEDIATELY.
After a dining experience unlike any other, I would gladly rate TESSA a 10/10 and I cannot wait to go back there again soon. Germania was not only a wonderful server and manager but she felt like a new friend that we even insisted she sat down and chat with us for a little while. I also insisted on meeting the incredibly talented chef, Eric. The courses he designs are absolutely delicious and so creative. He’s apparently worked his way up at TESSA over the years and even helped build the shelves when the restaurant was still coming together. The food is spectacular, but the service is surely of the best you’ll find in New York.