A new addition to the Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is one of the best neighborhoods to go to when you are looking for a delicious dinner. And because of that, a ton of new restaurants have opened up over the past year. Tasca is one of these restaurants, Focusing on Spanish, Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican food, Tasca brings an inventive twist of Latin food. Tasca’s interior is a throwback to a casual tavern room while also having space for an intimate dining experience. And to make things even better, Tasca has cultivated some of the best hand crafted cocktails you could ever find along with an extensive wine list of over 180 different wines.
To start off our dining experience, we tried the Oceanagrapher, which is made with navy gin, grilled pineapple, orgeat, and apricot. This drink takes you to a tropical island with how refreshing and sweet it is. There is a burst of pineapple followed by hints of apricot to the drink which are the main ingredients in the tropical sweetness. That and the airy foam on the top makes this drink such a delightful start to any meal if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.
We also tried the Empire Found drink which is made with Rye Whisky, mezcal, cocoa shell, and absinthe. The drink visually had a beautiful deep brown color to it that made it all the more appealing. Taking the first sip you are met with the smokiness of the mezcal that adds onto the robustness and earthiness of the whisky. The absinthe provides a bit of herbal notes from the fennel and the cacao shell provides a nice dark richness to the drink that provides an overall balance.
To start, we tried the Chicharron de pollo which is Seville orange marinated crispy chunks of chicken. With the first bite, you immediately notice how crispy the skin is on the chicken while also getting so much juice and flavor from the inside of the chicken. The orange sauce marinade covering the chicken offers a brightness and sweetness to the dish that pairs well with how savory the chicken is. Additionally, there is a mustard sauce on the side that if paired, adds a tart and sharp taste to the bite which helps provide an additional level of depth to the dish.
Up next we tried the Coca de setas which is a flatbread made with shiitake mushrooms, black bean puree, kale, caramelized onions, pine nuts, and topped with monte enebro cheese. The flatbread itself was crisp on the bottom but still maintained a fluffiness on top. The star of the dish was the black bean puree which was creamy but added a burst of savoriness and earthiness to the dish. The caramelized onions added a much needed sweetness that married well with the umami flavor from the shiitake mushrooms. This would definitely be a dish we would come back for or get an order to go since it is just that good and satisfying.
For our entrée we tried the paella valenciana because you truly aren’t eating Spanish food if you aren’t having a paella. This paella is more of a traditional paella that you would find made from saffron rice, shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels, chorizo, and chicken. The hard thing about paella is the actual cooking of the rice since the rice could easily be overcooked and mushy or crunchy and underdone. This rice was cooked perfectly. It was puffy and tender and burst with flavor from absorbing the broth that was used. Each bit of meat was cooked well and provided a variety of texture and flavor. The wonderful thing about paella is that no bite is truly the same depending on what meat you pick up with your utensil. Suffice to say, each bite we took was packed with flavor and paired with a perfectly cooked protein. And one of my favorite parts about paella is the crisp bottom layer of rice that adds a bit of texture and smokiness to it, so be sure to aim for the very bottom when having this dish.
Our last entrée was the Magret de Pato which is a thousand spiced rub duck magret over a tower of sweet plantain and zinfandel goat cheese. The duck was cooked well and had such a beautiful and crisp skin on the exterior. The inside of the duck was moist and juicy and was full of the natural duck flavor. The accompaniment of the goat cheese and plantain was actually my favorite part of the dish. The creaminess of the goat cheese paired perfectly with the sweetness and starchiness of the plantain. And when paired with the duck created a beautiful combination of sweet and savory along with creating a variety of textures in your mouth.
For dessert, we tried the flan de caramelo which is made with caramel flan, fruit macerate, and a coconut terron. The flan was light and airy and had a flavorful caramel custard inside. There was a good amount of sweetness to the flan but not so much where you would take one bite and be overwhelmed by it. The fruit paired with it added a nice brightness and tropical sweetness that balanced out the deeper level of sweetness from the flan.
Overall, we highly recommend Tasca. Being a new restaurant in the Upper West Side is a daunting task but Tasca’s innovative menu and delicious cocktails are definitely something that everyone should try out when given the chance.