Thalassa will offer a festive 5-course Greek New Year’s Eve menu with live music (Greek, Flamenco) and dancing. Complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Hours are 9PM – 2AM, call the restaurant for reservations.
Stuck between trendy and timeless, TriBeCa restaurants are monuments of dining to a bygone era of financial excess. Each entrance unassuming from the cobblestone streets, in a feeble attempt to mask the cavernous space and lofty ambitions. This is where the bankers dined, where new money is earned a few blocks away and quickly spent on dinner and wine.
That is also why I love TriBeCa.
The restaurants of TriBeCa were all ahead of their time. Despite some ostentatious decor and layouts, the food is mostly top notch then, and now. At night the streets are serene, and as the financial sector departs for the day, parking in this part of Manhattan can actually be described as abundant.
Thalassa is every bit a TriBeCa restaurant. From the small entrance on Franklin Street, you enter a lofty main dining room with private dining in the basement. Of course, there’s the obligatory wine room, which is proudly displayed to every guest on their way to the rest room.
Now some of you will chuckle at the previous sentence. Perhaps a sign of how far the culinary scene has come, and how our interpretation of a “trendy” or “upscale” restaurant has evolved since 2004. To each their own. I personally find nothing wrong with it. As an oenophile, I find wine rooms particularly fetching.
The same solid culinary fundamentals are found in the cuisine as well. As someone who always orders the octopus at Greek restaurants, I was thrilled to hear that the chef massages the octopus prior to tossing it on the grill. Not since 15 East have I tasted massaged octopus, and it was great to know that the skill isn’t only limited to classically trained Japanese chefs. You definitely taste the difference.
The scallops which came next were disappointingly over-engineered. For something that would be perfect with a nice searing over the stove, these scallops were wrapped kataifi filo and coated with sheep’s milk butter and Kalamata balsamic reduction. The creaminess of the sheep’s milk butter diluted the flavor and texture of the scallops.
My hopes for something simpler that pushed the natural flavors were quickly answered. The lavraki (a.k.a. branzino or European seabass), flown in from Europe, was simply filleted, grilled, and served with lemon. We’re warned by the wait staff that while the kitchen has painstakingly removed as many bones as possible, there might be a few misses so we should eat with caution. This was a bit of honesty that I actually quite appreciate, and shows how hands on the chefs are filleting and de-boning the fish themselves.
In times like today it’s unlikely to see these large scale restaurants that show such passion about the food. Recent years fine dining have mostly been on a smaller scale, while big box restaurants seem to forget what’s on the plate. Great authentic Greek food, beautiful decor, ample parking, what’s not to like about Thalassa?
What does this rating mean?
From the Notebook: The Greek wine pairings were excellent, though it’d be some time before I can grasp the intricate nuances of Greek wines. Fact is I can’t pronounce some of the varietals. The meal was complimentary, though it did not affect my opinions.
Thalassa (Make a Reservation)
179 Franklin St
New York, NY 10013