Tessa to Open Tomorrow Night + More Spring Openings

For foodies, this spring is bound to bear more than just warm weather.

Tessa, a well-designed Mediterranean joint, will be moving into a prime 1,750-square-foot space on the Upper West Side that has seen restaurants come and go over the years. Named after one of the owner’s daughters, it is to feature world class French and Italian flavors. The spot will be headed by Chef Cedric Tovar, who has spent time at both Bobo and Rosemary’s, both gems in the downtown culinary scene. Similar to other up-and-coming restaurants north of Lincoln Center, Tessa features modern design with equal attention to both form and function. The design showcases a ground level bar area and an upstairs dining room. Tessa opens this Thursday. It is located at 349 Amsterdam Avenue.

Event Preview: Fridays at Tokya

Tokya Fridays are back this weekend at the popular New York City Sushi lounge/nightclub. The restaurant space within the veune is open for dinner between 5pm and 11pm, before making way for the nightclub, which is open until 4am.

As is the standard with Tokya Fridays, the DJ booth will be pumping out nothing but the best EDM while the lovely geishas of Tokya dance about the expanse of the extremely elegant Japanese restuarant/nightclub.

When: Friday, March 7th, 10pm

Where: Tokya, 40 East 58th St., New York, NY

Review: Reserve Cut

The burgeoning restaurant scene in the Financial District has facilitated the growth of a number of exciting new places to eat and drink. From world-acclaimed bars like The Dead Rabbit to seasonal, upscale restaurants like Juni, The Financial District is quickly attracting establishments that are putting it on the forefront of the NYC culinary scene. One such restaurant is Reserve Cut, which stands out even among its groundbreaking counterparts.

Make Your Own Sushi at Pink Nori

Pink Nori is set to open next week in Astoria with a concept that makes sense: Make your own sushi. It's so simple we can't believe no one's done it before. If you've ever passed up on a delicious maki roll because you didn't like one of the ingredients or were always tempted to put guacamole on spicy tuna, then this restaurant may be the solution.

The eatery will employ the same formula as Pinkberry or Chipotle. Customers will be able to choose their favorite toppings and their personal sushi roll will be made to order. The place will include some standard choices with other, stranger options, like potato chips or jalapeños. The name "Pink Nori" refers to mamenori, a type of soybean paper that sometimes replaces traditional nori, which is made from seaweed.

Oya: Asian Fusion

Upon entering the dining area of Oya, the first thing you'll notice is its strikingly luxurious interior design. Ornamented with chandeliers, feather covered columns, and a few of those cool fire pits with the glass in the bottom, you can’t help but anticipate an equally opulent meal. Oya delivers.

The menu features an array of carefully engineered sushi, small and large plates, and a prix fixe menu for lunch ($22) and dinner ($36). I was very hungry so I decided against sushi and instead ordered two of Oya's Land Small Plates: BBQ Sticky Ribs and the Beef Short Rib Wellington. The sticky ribs had a delicious caramel sweetness that was like eating those Werther’s Originals my grandmother would give me, except the ribs weren’t old and melted together. Cooked to the perfect tenderness, slathered with a soy-lemongrass glaze, and complimented with citrusy coleslaw, the BBQ Sticky Ribs were an interesting and delightful spin on a southern comfort staple.

Inventive Japanese Cuisine at Makoto

Bal Harbour is as recognizable for anyone in Miami as Lincoln Road or Calle Ocho. The highly affluent stretch of Collins Avenue is home to some of the most luxurious residences and also to one of the most luxurious malls in the country, Bal Harbour Shops. While more renowned for it’s designer clothing and jewelry boutiques that include Chanel and Harry Winston, as well as its Neiman Marcus and Saks anchors, the mall is also a destination for the truly savvy gourmand with restaurants like Makoto. Named after Chef Makoto Okuwa who mans the kitchen, this Japanese restaurant has been offering shoppers and culinary connoisseurs inventive fare since it opened its doors a few years ago. Chef Okuwa seems to be in a constant state of creation, and his unique interpretations of Japanese dishes inspire diners to look at one of the world’s most elegant cuisines in an entirely new light.

SAIA Gets Hot & Spicy

If you would have told an average American fifty years ago that this country would be obsessed with hot and spicy flavors in the twenty first century, they’d probably think you were crazy. It really is quite curious how, for a culture whose cuisine doesn’t traditionally embrace spiciness, we have really adapted our palates to the addictive burn that only chili peppers can provide. Sriracha is now almost as ubiquitous in the American pantry as ketchup, and it seems as if no casual dining menu is complete without a chipotle-spiked something or other. Besides embracing heat, Americans have also begun to embrace a lot of other flavors and textures, not least among them being sushi. I don’t think anyone would have ever imagined that a dish of rice, seaweed, and raw seafood would ever become as popular in this country as sushi has. Needless to say, the flavor profiles of American cuisine are changing at a rapidly exciting rate, and there are fewer places to celebrate our new culinary preferences this evening than at SAIA, which is putting on a special “Social Hour” to celebrate all things hot and spicy.

SUSHISAMBA's Art Basel Popup

Lest we forget about art of the culinary kind during Art Basel week, Sushi Samba will be manning a popup version of their Lincoln Road hotspot in the heart of some of the most exciting satellite fairs. Occupying the former Sustain space in the shops of Midtown, SUSHISAMBA’s SAMBAPOP will be only steps away from such fairs as Art Asia, Art Miami, and Context, as well as a short distance from many others. From now until Sunday, December 9th, SAMBAPOP will be serving “Baselers” their unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian flavors that have made the SUSHISAMBA brand a mainstay on South Beach. With the announcement of its new chef, Brian Nasajon, SAMBAPOP will be the perfect opportunity for both local and visiting art aficionados to sample the new chef’s creative offerings, as well as many favorites.

SAIA Social Hour

SAIA, Fort Lauderdale Beach's bastion of chic Asian cuisine paired with perhaps the best cocktails in Broward, kicked off its daily happy hour, dubbed Social Hour, last week with a very affordable selection of sushi, Asian appetizers, and beautifully crafted cocktails. Serious cocktail drinkers with an affinity for all things vintage will gravitate to selections from SAIA's Old's Cool collection, including a unique spin on the Negroni containing Punt e Mes and Aperol in addition to the traditional gin, as well as a silky smooth Sazerac with rye whiskey, cognac, bitters, and an absinthe rinse. Drinks from the Starlet Collection tend to be on the sweeter side, and the libations evoke the personalities and charisma of the heroines for which they are named, like Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. The aptly named Bettie Page surprises with a slight sting in the back of the throat from fresh jalapeño after the flavors of blueberry, cranberry, and lime have subsided.