Located amongst the chic of the chic in Tribeca, is SAVIDA, the latest NYC destination for modern Mediterranean cuisine with Middle Eastern flare. Specializing in seafood, SAVIDA celebrates the spices and fresh flavors of the Mediterranean, while paying tribute to the heritage and Israeli background of its owner, Noam Langleib.
When walking in, you feel right at home. Very warm, welcoming, and charming, the space is dimly lit with hanging lights above and two olive trees dispersed throughout. The walls are adorned with pieces from local artists that are also for purchase.
The menu, created by Chef Jose Paulo Cortes, formerly of Barbounia and Bustan, uses all fresh and quality ingredients. Chef Paulo does a fantastic job of transporting you to the Mediterranean through your palate, while allowing space for various other palates. Very traditional, modern, and authentic, you truly feel immersed in the culture.
We had the opportunity to visit SAVIDA and experience that Mediterranean charm for ourselves. We also sat down with Chef Paulo to talk about his early days, influences, inspirations, etc.
Check out our TIPSY Talk with Chef Jose Paulo Cortes along with some of the dishes that we tried…
TIPSY Diaries: At what point/how early on in your life did you realize your love for cooking?
Chef Paulo: Back in the Philippines growing up, my grandma always cooked for the family every Sunday and so did my mom. I started going to the wet market with them and would pick out fresh fish and seafood and produce. That’s when I knew I had a passion and love for cooking. I started cooking for my family and going to the market by myself at 11 years old and haven’t stopped since.
TIPSY Diaries: At what point did you realize that you wanted to become a chef?
Chef Paulo: In 1997, I finished high school in the Philippines. I really wanted to go to culinary school but at the time, that degree didn’t exist in the Philippines, so instead, I studied banking and finance while still nurturing my love for cooking. In 2006, I moved to New York to pursue my career in finance, but, due to the recession, no banks were hiring and I was forced to look for a job in a different field. My wife’s cousin was working as a pastry chef and referred me to the chef. That is when my culinary career began. I started as a baker and worked my way up.
TIPSY Diaries: Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?
Chef Paulo: My family, my grandma’s love for cooking, and my mothers.
TIPSY Diaries: What is your favorite cuisine?
Chef Paulo: Mediterranean. I love the diversity and all of the flavors of this cuisine. You can really play with Mediterranean food, there’s so much you can mix together.
TIPSY Diaries: Do you have a signature dish that you enjoy making?
Chef Paulo: Fish and Seafood. It is simple, fresh, and delicious.
TIPSY Diaries: Do you typically have a say in the making of cocktails?
Chef Paulo: Depending on the flavors being combined, I try to share my input when I can.
TIPSY Diaries: If you had to cook for the Queen of England, what would you make her? (from appetizers, to main course, to dessert)
I would start with different mezze dishes from classic hummus or baba ganoush to something more interesting like a chicken liver mousse or roasted beets with balsamic glaze and goat cheese. I would also prepare grilled octopus with warm bean masabacha, and salsa verde with herb salad.
Wild halibut poached in chraime sauce with couscous, winter vegetables, and cilantro foam.
Goat cheese panna cotta with macerated wild berries, crispy kataifi, and pistachios.
TIPSY Diaries: What would your last meal on earth be?
Chef Paulo: It would definitely be a 32oz 21 Dry Aged Prime PorterHouse steak with chanterelle mushrooms, lemon roasted potatoes, with a mustard demi glaze.
After our conversation with Chef Paulo, we ate and ate and ate and ate.
We started with Chef Paulo’s signature Mezze (hummus, baba ganoush, roasted beets, spicy feta, labane, tzatziki, cauliflower, tabbouleh, and marinated olives) and then went on to the Grilled Spanish Octopus,Roasted Heirloom Cauliflower, Morrocan Cigars, Nova Scotia Wild Halibut, Pan Seared Sea Scallops, & the Greek Mac & Cheese. It was all AH-MAZING. With generous portions, we were full for days.
Here’s the rundown…
Yasso (ouzo, lime & fresh mint, topped with pomegranate juice)
Mezze (hummus, baba ganoush, roasted beets, spicy feta, labane, tzatziki, cauliflower, tabbouleh, and marinated olives)
Grilled Spanish Octopus (salsa verde, baby arugula, sumac pickled onion & fennel)
Roasted Heirloom Cauliflower (honey, anise and seasoned labaneh)
Nova Scotia Wild Halibut (poached in roasted tomatoes, peppers, harissa, garlic, Israeli Couscous, and cilantro)
Greek Mac & Cheese (kefalograviera, seasoned bread crumbs)
Pan Seared Sea Scallops (crispy & puree jerusalem artichoke and hazelnut vinaigrette)