Sunday, March 31, 2013

Thalassa Brings a New Meaning to Greek Food

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to attend a fabulous tasting at Thalassa Restaurant in Tribeca.  Being invited by the restaurant to taste its delicious food was a total treat and I knew I'd run into foodies I knew, so that was yet another plus.  Low and behold, Lindsay from The Lunch Belle was a fellow dining companion and I was so excited to catch up and break bread (I mean pita) with her and my other lovely companions.

Set in an old historic building on Franklin Street in Tribeca that originally served as a warehouse, Thalassa is colossal.  I love that it exemplifies a cross between old world industrial style and something completely modern.  The bar is beautiful and sleek, made of custom-made white marble, and is a nice gathering spot when waiting for your party to arrive.

As we made our way into the main dining room, we couldn't help but notice the impressive display of fresh seafood that would later become dinner.  The giant scallops were especially amazing and we couldn't help but snap a few photos, our excitement for our upcoming dinner growing by the minute.

Once we sat down, the atmosphere continued to be sleek and luxurious, studded with simple embellishments such as sheer flowing curtains, Greek urns and soft lighting, which made you feel as if you were very far away from Manhattan.  This was very welcome after a long day at work, as we exhaled the stress and inhaled the serenity of Thalassa.

As Astoria has spoiled me with some pretty fine Greek food, I do tend to judge a little harshly.  Thalassa certainly held its own, and then some, as I was impressed not only by the food's exquisite taste, but also by its beautiful presentation.

Meze - This is the best part of a Greek meal for me and was my favorite course at Thalassa.  There were quite a few things we tasted, including the zucchini/eggplant chips you see above, the grilled octopus, Maine diver sea scallops, a series of dips with pita, and bakalao.  

My standouts were by far the seafood dishes including the octopus and the scallops.  Both really distinguished themselves from traditional meze - the octopus boasting a beautiful melt-in-your-mouth texture that can only be achieved by massaging the octopus during preparation, and the scallops enveloped in crispy kataifi phyllo dough that's typically used in dessert.  The latter was especially unique, showcasing a sophisticated juxtaposition between the crispy exterior shell and the tender scallop nestled inside.  Resting in a kalamata balsamic reduction, the whole thing was perfection on a plate.

Mains - I like that we went simple with our main course, which was a plate of grilled red snapper, prepared with olive oil, lemon, capers and a little bit of dandelion greens.  The whole thing was clean and uncomplicated and reminded me of something I'd eat on vacation in the Greek isles.  I'd recommend sharing something like this with another dining companion, especially if you've already tried a few meze.

Dessert - Ending things grandly, we enjoyed four shared desserts, including their house baklava, Ekmek, walnut chocolate Karydopita, and the Mastiha panna cotta.  Each were delicious in their own right, but my favorite was the Ekmek, which looked pretty non-traditional, wrapped in a dark, rich Valrhona chocolate dome.  Inside was a creamy, custardy middle with pistachios, and more pistachio ice cream on the side too.  While it was a little tough to break its beautiful shell, it was completely worth it.  The panna cotta was a close second favorite with caramelized pears and fresh berries on top, leaving the creamy middle simple and pure. 

Service and Cost:
The best part of the service for me was the extensive knowledge that Thalassa's staff had about the food.  Reciting the contents of each dish as naturally as stating the weather per se, you can clearly tell that you were at a fine dining establishment.  We also had the pleasure to meet Thalassa's Chef, Raphael Abrahante who was happy to chat with us and even revealed some of his tricks behind making those impeccable scallops and octopus.  It's clear that he has a passion for this stuff and it all showed through this spectacular dinner.

Costs are on the higher side, as this is fine dining at its best.  However, they also have some reasonable happy hour specials Monday - Friday from 5:30 - 7 p.m. when they serve meze,  1/2 priced specialty cocktails and select Greek wines by the glass.

Meze - $14 - $22
Mains - $29 - $48
Desserts - $12

3 Mmmms

Thalassa - 179 Franklin Street, New York NY 10013
1 Train to Franklin Street

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