In the heart of NOLITA sits Bazlem, a nearly year-old Mediterranean restaurant and bar that boasts more than 15 wine varieties available by the glass. Come in for happy hour and grab a glass for just $6 on select glasses, plus $5 tapas and $5 beers.
You’ll be sucked in when you wonder down the long wooden, rustic bar and exposed brick that runs along both walls. The inside feels warm and homey, while also very Mediterranean.
I’m a huge fan of tapas restaurants as they enable you and your group to try a number of dishes that is typically impossible to do otherwise. Balzem’s chef, Balahan Bobus, has created a menu that is deeply Mediterranean and brings out the full flavor of the various seafood options with bright citrus and herbs.
While I was able to try a number of dishes, a few are ones you can’t miss.
You’ll want to get the Branzini ceviche which is served with arugula and dill. It’s fresh, clean and the fish doesn’t get much fresher. Next, be sure to get three (yea I said three) of the octopus. If you’re by yourself, this may be ambitious, but with a group, get three. The spanish pulpo is marinated and grilled in red wine and served with arugula. The octopus is perfect.
A couple other winners include the Prosciutto wraps with burrata and roasted peppers. Normally I think of Prosciutto wrapped Mozzarella, but here, it’s creamy burrata.
You may be thinking, I like tapas, but I want to dive head first into a full entree portion, after all, you’re really hungry. In that case go with a grilled brochette of lamb or ribeye, rare of course. If you’re so inclined to get a side, then the truffle mac and cheese is great, but rich and heavy, so be warned.
I don’t like Tiramisu. At Balzem, I could have eaten the entire Tiramisu. It was that good. I don’t know if you’ll have room for dessert after all the above, but if you do, get the Tiramisu. There are lots of places to eat in this area, but not many boast such an eclectic wine selection and delicious octoput, so put this spot on your list.