I was recently invited to a Press Dinner at Thalassa (means “the sea” in Greek) in NYC. While I have been to Thalassa before and have enjoyed the food there almost 9 years ago, this time too, I had a wonderful evening at Thalassa and enjoyed classic Greek and contemporary seafood dishes with Greek ingredients as well.
Thalassa NYC – entrance
Thalassa has an impressive global wine list with many wines imported from Greece. Thalassa is open six nights a week for dinner (closed on Sundays) and has a happy hour on weekdays from 5.30 PM to 7 PM when half-priced cocktails are served along with Mezes. Thalassa serves fresh seafood from the Mediterranean Sea and other ingredients imported from Greece by Fantis Foods by the Makris family. Executive Chef Ralpheal Abrahante (also the pastry chef) was the sous chef when the restaurant opened in 2002. The Chef / restaurant is keen to serve fish caught wild rather than farmed fish to ensure that seafood meets the high quality standard that they have set for themselves.
Inside Thalassa NYC – bar
Inside Thalassa NYC – 2 – dining area
Chef Ralpheal Abrahante at Thalassa NYC
The amuse bouche served was cod fritters with aioli. The fritters were perfectly crunchy outside and soft and extremely tasty inside.
Amuse bouche at Thalassa NYC – Cod fritters with aioli and chopped chives
We were served some bread with fava bean puree, Greek olive oil and green and black Greek olives.
Bread with fava bean puree, Greek olive oil and Greek olives (green and black) at Thalassa NYC
Next came the eggplant and zucchini fries
. The eggplant and zucchini were thinly sliced, dipped in batter with salt and paprika and deep-fried. They were perfect with any of the 3 dips / spreads served – taramosalata
(salted and cured roe of cod or carp), smoked eggplant puree, and tzatziki (Greek yogurt with cucumber and dill). The spreads were all delicious, although I particularly liked the smoky eggplant puree. The plate of eggplant and zucchini fries included some fried saganaki graviera cheese that was slightly, dry and salty, yet delicious. How I wish there were more restaurants in NYC (Greek or otherwise) serving such delicious vegetable fries.
Eggplant and zucchini fries, topped with tzatziki, and served with some saganaki graviera at Thalassa NYC
We were served a white Tsantali Athiri 2011
from Macedonia, Greece. I thought it had a nice balance between acidity and sweetness (although winesearcher
says it is more acidic than sweet!).
Next came the trio of tartares
– all drizzled with truffle oil and topped with microgreens. Dorado (Mediterranean fish) with taramosalata on roasted sweet red peppers, lavraki (Greek branzino) on roasted beets topped with skordalia
(thick puree of garlic and potatoes / almonds), and tuna on avocado and topped with tzatziki. They were all great, but if I had to pick one, I would go with a Tuna tartare.
Trio of Tartares (from Left to Right): Lavraki (branzino) with roasted beets and skordalia, avocado and tuna topped with tzatziki, and dorado with roasted sweet red peppers and taramosalata at Thalassa NYC
A fluke crudo was delicious with fennel, blood orange for some beautiful color and acidity, some fried Kumamoto oysters for texture, and microgreens for color and flavor.
Fluke crudo with fennel, blood orange, fried Kumamoto oysters, and organic microgreens at Thalassa NYC
A grilled octopus arrived with an olive oil red wine vinaigrette and with some organic microgreens. This was a delicious octopus dish that felt soft (Chef Ralpheal Abrahante made sure that the octopus was hand-massaged to make it softer), almost buttery. Wish I had got a picture of the octopus before it was served.
Another white wine that we were served was Spyros Hatziyiannis 2011 from the island of Santorini. Given the volcanic activity on Santorini, this wine had a higher mineral content, and paired well with the rest of the food served.
Maine diver sea scallops were served next. The scallops were wrapped in kataifi filo, and cooked in sheep’s milk butter and served with a kalamata (olive) balsamic reduction. This was a delicious dish and I enjoyed it. But then, I am a person who loves scallops – just grilled or seared with some butter and I am a happy person.
Scallops with kataifi, sheep brown butter at Thalassa NYC
Maine diver sea scallops wrapped in kataifi, cooked in sheep brown butter with a kalamata balsamic reduction at Thalassa NYC
Then came my favorite dish of the evening. A lavraki (Greek Branzino) that was served in a classic Greek style with olive oil, lemon, parsley, and capers and accompanied by chard. If I had just had this dish with the zucchini fries I could have called it an evening.
Lavraki (Greek Branzino) served in classic Greek style with capers, lemon, and parsley at Thalassa NYC
We were served a dessert platter that had most of the desserts on Thalassa’s menu. A molten chocolate cake (my standard favorite anywhere), chocolate mousse served in tiny waffle cones, Greek baklava (extremely delicious), zucchini walnut cake, mastiha panna cotta with caramelized pears and berries, Ekmek (kataifi and cream with pistachios, wrapped in a Valhroha chocolate dome), and another Greek dessert (cheesecake like wrapped in filo and drizzled with honey and topped with sesame seeds)
Mastiha panna cotta served with berries at Thalassa NYC
Molten chocolate cake at Thalassa NYC
Chocolate mousse served in mini waffle cones at Thalassa NYC
Ekmek – kataifi and cream with pistachios, wrapped in a Valhroha chocolate dome – at Thalassa NYC
Platter of Greek desserts – walnut zucchini cake, Greek baklava, and another specialty Greek dessert – served at Thalassa NYC
I would go to Thalassa, for some of the most fresh sea food and to enjoy some contemporary dishes with Greek ingredients by Chef Ralpheal Abrahante. Vegetarians do not have a lot of choices among entrees but the eggplant and zucchini fries and some of the spreads that I was served are all excellent.
Note: This was a Press Dinner paid for by Thalassa, but all opinions and views are mine.
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