164 West 75th Street on Amsterdam Avenue
$280 for four people with eight glasses of drinks, without tip
â™¥ â™¥ â™¥
Ah, the upper west side, you keep surprising me. ‘cesca has been on our list of places to eat for the past year because Cameron lives around the corner. After Telepan, I’m more confident to pick a restaurant in the upper west side even if it bills itself as a family-owned Italian restaurant. (I don’t have any good experiences to write about family-owned Italian restaurants in Little Italy and the space next door has turned over more than I can count.) The ‘cesca menu looked good the first time I read it from the outside of the restaurant and it looked good the night we visited. Four of us were seated in the wine nook; a table fit for ten became our own private space for three hours. The sommelier, a giant with a short ponytail, selected for us a light red wine after our glasses of Prosecco.
The octopus sopressata, so called because it’s dried, pressed and sliced thinly, reminded me of the octopus carpaccio we ate in Prague. The pickle-ly taste offset the bitter mustard greens. I couldn’t pass up the chance to try their veal meatballs. They were served in a clear, hot broth, perfect for the harsh temperature outside. The Parmigiano gave it a beefier, fuller taste. We also shared a third appetizer, the escarole salad with tuna, fennel and pomegranates. While we waited for our two main dishes, we were served a complimentary course of faro wheat. We didn’t really understand how we became so lucky, but our waiter quietly mentioned Babbo when we asked. I think he overheard us talking out our most recent experience at Babbo and appreciated the fact that we like our authentic Italian food. (I think taking photos of food really helps.) The special of the night was a seafood risotto and we divided that with a rack of lamb chops and servings of broccoli rabe and roasted Brussel sprouts that tasted like fresh potato chips. To tell you the truth, I enjoyed my medium-rare lamb so much I don’t even remember tasting the risotto. During our espressos, we split the panna cotta with mixed fruit compote and the warm chocolate cake with crÃ©me fraiche. I really won’t make fun of the upper west side again.