Anassa Taverna is a spacious, bustling new Greek restaurant that opened in June on the corner of 60th Street and Third Avenue on New York City’s Upper East Side, right across the street from Bloomingdale’s. In a city with no shortage of great Greek restaurants, this one stands out from the pack due to its airy bi-level space, attention to detail, quality cocktails, and expert seafood.
The restaurant is bright (but dim enough after the sun goes down), spacious, clean, and dominated by the traditional blue and white colors you’d expect at most Greek restaurants. The brick walls have been whitewashed, and there are light woods, a welcoming marble bar (with an antique back bar), recessed lighting and unobtrusive sconces, and comfortable seating, including a handful of round banquettes. Antique wine jugs and other authentic Greek touches decorate the walls, and the whole restaurant has a comfortable, classy atmosphere.
At the invitation of the restaurant, I had the opportunity to dine there, and sampled a selection of dishes recommended by our waiter. Cocktails include the Anassa Sling, a take on the Singapore Sling that features a hefty dose of gin and Cherry Heering, and the Cool n’ Calm is similar to a mojito but contains cucumber, an addition that I’ll be including in all my mojitos from now on. And the Village Market partners gin with watermelon and lime, and is a near-perfect summer treat.
But onto the food. The sushi-grade octopus is run through a custom-made washing machine to stretch it out and tenderize it before it’s slow-baked with vinegar and peppercorns. After that it’s grilled, sliced, and served with lemon, onions, and capers, and it’s tender and a must-try for anyone who’s a fan of octopus. The crabcake is all-crab, no filler, and is made with jumbo-lump Maryland blue crabmeat. Again, it's a must-try for anyone who’s a fan of crabcakes, and a vastly different product from the standard Old Bay-seasoned, mayo-laden options. Jumbo shrimp are simply grilled and served with a squeeze of lemon, of with fresh tomato, onion, and garlic.
The menu is very seafood-heavy (lamb shank, which is usually a Greek restaurant staple, is only available here on Saturdays), and we suggest you stick with that. Branzino and dorado are shipped in fresh from the Ionian island of Kefalonia, and the rest, including striped bass, salmon, lavraki, tuna, swordfish, and rouget, are from the North Atlantic. The fish are simply grilled and drizzled with olive oil and lemon, and the freshness truly comes through.
Service was spot-on, with a knowledgeable and friendly waitstaff willing to guide you through the menu and help make food and wine suggestions. If you have even a passing interest in Greek food or seafood, we suggest you check out the newest addition to the scene in New York City.