The last time I visited Cesca I was celebrating my 21st birthday. At the time, it was a trendy new Italian restaurant that was getting a lot of hype among food-lovers and was the perfect choice to celebrate my coming of age.
When I moved back to the Upper West Side a few years ago, I was pleased to see that Cesca was still there, nestled on West 75th Street in an elegant pre-war building.
On a recent Tuesday evening excursion the place was packed. Lucky for us, we had a reservation. We sat in the back at a big banquette and scoured the menu, which is full of Italian dishes spiced with a contemporary flair.
For appetizers we tried the sauteed clams (pretty bland) and prosciutto croquettes that were salty bites of crispy goodness (must have).
For entrees, we loved the Tagliatelle Verde Alla Bolognese, a generous portion of homemade spinach fettucini mixed with lamb and veal ragu. We also enjoyed the Mushroom Garganelli, al dente tubes of pasta served with sauteed and fragrant mushrooms topped with fresh Parmesan that created a light cream sauce when stirred together. The Seared Scallops are also a winner. I still remember the scallops I had on my 21st birthday and these are just as good.
Cesca is not an every night indulgence. You can order half portion pastas (about $16), but go big and get the entree order (about $24), it's worth it. Sip a big goblet of Italian red with your pasta and you're golden.