It’s often reported that Mediterranean is the healthiest among world cuisines, with its core components of fresh vegetables and fruit daily, olive oil, fish, legumes, whole grains, and limited red meat. Yet characterizing a cuisine as “healthy” leads some to (mistakenly) believe it means unflavorful. “Mediterranean food is about an entire region and the various cuisines within,” says Dane Asermely, who debuted the 140-seat Meso, along with partners Bobby Khorrami and Miguel Olmedo, in December. “French Italian, Spanish, Greek, North African… a melting pot of 22 countries in all, which leads to lots of flavor.” The partners bring an impressive résumé of NYC restaurant savvy to Meso: Asermely and Khorrami own The Tillage on West 30th Street, while Olmedo was assistant general manager at house-made pasta specialist Scarpetta.
Meso means “middle,” and chef Alex Lopez (previously at French-Mediterranean bistro Nice Matin on West 79th) has a menu that targets the center of the Mediterranean, pulling equally from all corners. There’s a Greek-inspired platter of dips, a Persian Shirazi salad, whole branzino, spaghetti with lobster and heirloom cherry tomatoes, mushroom fusilli with sun-dried tomatoes and a roasted garlic butter sauce, and honey-glazed duck served with brandy-soaked figs. Pastas and desserts (e.g., chocolate souffle, tart Tatin) are made in-house. “We have no freezers,” says Khorrami. “What comes in today is gone a few days later.” The beverage program includes a short international wine list, with most bottles between $55 and $130. According to Olmedo, “The cocktails are an extension of what we do in the kitchen,” with freshness, innovation, and sustainability as core elements. There’s the Royal-Tea, with Caravedo Pisco, raspberry, house-made lavender syrup, lemon juice, and egg white, and the Crystal Clear Margarita, with Volcan Silver Tequila, clarified lime juice, cointreau, and lemon-pepper salt.
The interior is airy and light, made so by natural colors, leather-and-suede banquettes, and pops of green that stem from plant life. A Meso garden, with pergolas and hedges seating approximately 80 to 100, is planned for spring.
The trio also has a Meso Sag Harbor in the works (a Meso SoHo is nixed for now due to COVID).
Opening during a pandemic meant a minimal staff, smaller menu, and dinner-only service. “A good thing about focusing on one meal period and a tighter menu means we can get each dish exactly right,” explains Asermely. “And people here are not shy about feedback, but they come back, so we like the critiques.”
Meso Mediterranean Cuisine
22 Elm Pl, Rye