TravelNoise: Tfor, New York City

Beware: lots of raw fish ahead.

No, seriously — raw fish lovers, you are going to die over this up-and-coming Mediterranean restaurant. Tfor literally means “T for…” tartare, a specialty that the restaurant claims to have mastered. But the name goes beyond just raw food.

Tfor, New York

T also stands for Tommy, as in Tommasco Roncari, the owner and mastermind behind the concept for the extremely authentic Mediterranean, yet totally modern, menu of seafood, tartares and craft cocktails.

Situated in the heart of West Village on Bedford Street, the little restaurant seats no more than 30, from six-person tables to a luxe white booth in the back of the restaurant, to barstools right at the centre of the bartenders’ intoxicating mixology techniques.

The restaurant is everything you imagine the Mediterranean coast to look like: turquoise walls with white exposed brick, gold and white-framed mirrors, copper bulbs casting a glow on each table and a sleek L-shaped bar. Wine bottles line the top ledge all around the restaurant and fresh flowers sit posed on the bar.

My guest and I were greeted by a warm and inviting waitstaff as well as our contact, Maurita, who assured us we would be well-taken care of. Upon sitting down, we were offered sparkling glasses of Franciacorta (think Prosecco, but better) while we were told more about the concept. Our waiter popped over with cheesy, crispy croquettes to enjoy with our Franciacorta and prompted us to choose a cocktail from the list of intriguing options.

The choice was difficult, because with names like Love Potion #9 and Jungle Lady, you’ll want to try them all, right? Despite all odds, we came to a decision: my guest getting the Black Panther ($13), featuring tequila, creme de cassis and fresh basil, and my choice, the Hibiscus Fizz ($14), a gin-based, frothy cocktail with lychee syrup and hibiscus reduction. Spoiler: they were incredible.

The menu is super focused on raw foods while still featuring Italian comfort classics like Cacio e Pepe and sea urchin spaghetti, but we gave our waiter the freedom to send out any and everything he felt appropriate. What happened next was a hurricane of tartares, carpaccios and other fresh foods.

We shared all our plates, of course, starting with an artichoke cooked perfectly and slathered with butter and garlic and the Sicilian Eggplant Caponata with Aztec Cocoa Powder ($12). The eggplant was warm, a little heavier and very caper-ey, all in the best ways.

Then came the tartares and carpaccios, first the beef carpaccio ($19), which was warm and rich with Parmigiano and arugola and the swordfish carpaccio ($19), which was sliced thin and extremely fresh, complemented by pomegranate seeds, lime and pink pepper.

Their specialty tartare plate, the Tris of tartare ($28), featured some of the best tartares I’ve personally ever had: Sicilian tuna, Alaska salmon and Mediterranean shrimp. The three were plated beautifully in a row with totally different tastes. The tuna was complemented by fresh mango, the shrimp was velvety and melted in our mouths and the salmon was expertly tossed with vivid, creamy guacamole.

After all the plates, you would think we would be stuffed, but we actually felt light and almost re-energized. I could literally feel my face glowing (one can dream, right?).

We had just barely polished everything off when our waiter brought over the last two dishes: the swordfish Sicilian roll ($28) and the daily spaghetti special ($17). The Sicilian roll was hefty, nicely crisped and sweetened with a bit of raisin while the spaghetti was the epitome of perfectly al dente, buttery pasta. We had no issues clearing those plates, either.

With a perfect amount of room left for dessert, our waiter suggested the cannoli ($12) and apple tart ($12). The cannoli was deconstructed with rich mascarpone and ricotta cream and pistachios while the apple tart was spongy and accompanied by a citrus cream.

But we still weren’t done. Maurita brought over two Amaros, which is an Italian after-dinner digestif, or a “nightcap” in her words. The liqueur was surprisingly smooth, but we understood what she meant: we almost immediately felt sleepy after sipping it.

We were assured that we’d be taken care of that night, and we definitely were. The majority of our meal was so ridiculously fresh and light, we breezed out the door and to the subway with stars in our eyes. Tfor to us stood for Terrific, Totally amazing, The best raw food restaurant in the land.

Tfor, well done.

Address: 14 Bedford St, Brooklyn, NY 10014
Telephone Number: 212-675-9080

Sami Allen

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