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Monday, April 11, 2011

See the Shining Sea

Thalassa179 Franklin StreetNew York, NY  10013

 Divine, out of body experience, plate-licking-good-time doesn’t even begin to describe my thoughts on Thalassa, the beautiful 3 level Greek restaurant in Tribeca, New York. Thalassa is Greek for “the sea.”

Thalassa's Attractive Downstairs Bar
This wide open space seats approximately 130 people. The roomy dining area is chic and nautically styled, featuring romantically blue lit undertones throughout. Beautiful white marble imported from Greece is spread before you, and a softly lit bar awaits you just inside.
The smiling staff seems to all know all about fish… as if they’ve been on fishing boats their whole lives! With most Greek restaurants, you have the option of picking out your fresh fish at the ice bar… so when I noticed Thalassa’s seafood

It doesn't get any fresher than this!
display on ice, my excitement and anticiaption grew. Kareem, the captain waiter, saw me eyeing the display and came over to explain in depth all the different fish and what my tasty options were. He was so full of gusto and knowledge that his enthusiasm was contagious. After his impromptu fish “show” I gleefully chose the Dover Sole for my main course.
Now to the heart of the matter, or in this case the fish. A bite-sized delight was brought out to start; Smoked Salmon atop a crisp Cucumber with Saffron sauce and Wasabi Tobiko bubbles. The burst-in-your-mouth tobiko fish eggs combined with fresh salmon and cool cucumber was sensational. Thalassa’s servers are ever-so-attentive, and my wine glass was never below half full throughout the entire meal!
I decided to take a stroll away from the dinner table and look around the beautifully designed and decorated restaurant. Lovely columns, high ceilings, Greek urns and gorgeous blue glass service plates throughout were impressive eye candy to say the least. In one word, this restaurant is elegant.

Thalassa Scallops Wrapped in Kataifi
The Horiatiki, a Greek peasant salad was very fresh and well-seasoned. The mix of yellow and red tomatoes, onions and cucumbers must have been picked from a garden that day. I didn’t know tomatoes could be so sweet and ripe in February. A sampler of grilled Octopus, Dolmas, Feta & Tomato stuffed Calamari and Scallops was brought out. Brilliantly served on a typical Greek glass plate. Octopus is a favorite of mine, but the dish receiving the Food Oscar of the night was the scallops wrapped in Kataifi, a type of Phyllo dough that blankets these bivalves like a fur coat on a fashionable woman. The Phyllo dough soaks up the buttery sauce by design, and the scattering of capers on this dish is a nice touch.
By the time the main courses arrived we were quite full, but everything is so delicious at Thalassa that we had no choice but to forge ahead for the benefit of our still eager taste buds if nothing else! It is so easy to overcook fish, but Chef Ralpheal’s Dover Sole was pan-seared to perfection, lightly floured and seasoned with Tarragon, Rosemary and Oregano. The pretty flower placed carefully on the edge of my dish made it very eye-pleasing as well. The well chosen and perfectly paired side dishes to this light but meaty fish were Olive Oil roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sautéed Spinach and a Feta Cheese Broccoli Rabe. The Feta cheese really gave the Broccoli Rabe a kick, and each forkful’s creamy consistency made every bite memorable. These brussels sprouts were amazing…crisp on the outside, dense and firm on the inside. Lip-smacking, delectably delicious.

Broccoli Rabe with Crumbled Feta Cheese
After the last bite was eaten and the final glass of wine finished, Chef Ralpheal Abrahante came out to introduce himself and talk for a while. I thought this to be very hospitable on his part, since he is so busy and very much in demand! It was great to see the man behind the delectable feast we just enjoyed. Chef Ralpheal summed up his cuisine perfectlly, “If you over-complicate the food, the flavors become muddled.” This “simple” approach to the way Chef Ralpheal prepares fish allows the natural flavors to shine through. You can almost see the shining sea as you savor every bite!

Thalassa Fabulous Dessert Platter
My wisdom-tooth sized sweet tooth got it’s fill too, with an authentic Greek dessert sampler accompanied by a row of mini ice cream cones. Green tea, Baklava, Rose Petal and Coffee flavored ice creams filled these cones, each with white chocolate at the bottom for a final sweet surprise. The Semolina Cake, a type of crumbly flour cake, was buttery, airy and finished with a sweet raspberry sauce.
Each course was brought out in perfectly timed intervals. The atypical fish selection was impressive, and the presentation of each dish was so beautiful you almost didn’t want to touch them so as to not ruin their aesthetic beauty. If a taste of the Aegean Sea strikes your fancy, then Thalassa is unquestionably the nautical dining experience for you.

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