Cesca (Upper West Side)
Cesca is a great restaurant in my neighborhood that I’ve gone to several times. It has a large dining room in the back, but I prefer the lounge area. It’s a great place to have dinner by yourself or with a group of friends.
I went there most recently last Friday night. Farimah and I were supposed to go to the Met for drinks on the roof, but it was just too hot. She was in the mood for an elegant lounge so I recommended Cesca.
One of my favorite dishes on the Cesca menu is the salmon tartar. I get it pretty much everytime I dine there. The salmon is mixed with chiles, pine nuts and salsa verde, giving it a rainbow of flavors and textures.
Salmon is a little heavy and since it was so hot outside, I wanted a light dish to follow. I couldn’t resist the octopus carpaccio. I love octopus but I’d never had it as carpaccio. Each piece is topped with olive tapenade and mizuna dressed in a roasted tomato vinaigrette that has a hint of lemon. It’s not a dish I would order again. The tapenade is too rich for the thin slices of carpaccio, totally overwhelming the octopus flavor. You really need to include the mizuna with the vinaigrette in each bite. The citrus brightens the dish, balancing the saltiness of the tapenade.
It’s an anomaly for me to not like a dish at Cesca. The food there is very good. Believe it or not, I have not yet tried any of the pasta dishes, but I can recommend the assorted crostini, a cheese plate, the grilled salmon and the sirloin steak. I also highly recommend the escarole salad that includes hazelnuts, red onion, mint, and pecorino cheese – all served in a delicious sherry vinaigrette dressing.