Natsumi Tapas Melds Japanese and Italian Cuisines (Review)


10 Decor
8 Service
9 Food
9 Experience

Location: 323 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

Cuisine: Japanese and Italian Fusion

Best Dish: The grilled shrimp was delicious, the tuna tartar was fabulous but the sushi was absolute heaven. The Fortissimo specialty roll contained surprising herbaceous notes of basil and an equally surprising touch of parmesan.

Overall: A quaint chic space more than worthy of a romantic date night or a fun meal with your foodie friends.

Interior 1

The evolution of our food culture is expanding every single day. With this shift in normalcy comes an exciting frontier for food lovers seeking new and exciting flavors. Fusion cuisine is part of this shift and offers inspired dishes that bridge the gaps between cultures. At its core fusion combines flavors techniques and ingredients that turn familiar dishes into masterful meals. Natsumi Tapas is a brilliant fusion restaurant that marries traditional Japanese with Italian elements in a fascinating and delicious combination of small bites and pasta dishes. The new eatery is the brainchild of Barbara Matsumura and Chef Haru Konagaya, whom some may remember from their time with Haru Sushi, a popular sushi chain. The duo has since left Haru and has embarked on a flavorful new journey with Natsumi Tapas. Matsumura worked with leading experts to bring her vision to the forefront. She consulted Italian chef Andrea Tiberi from Perugia, Italy – particularly in developing the Italian-inspired dishes and Sushi chef Hiroyuki Nagao who worked at the first Haru and at Tomo, then moved on to Nobu and Blue Ribbon Sushi after the Haru group of restaurants were sold. There are many ways to experience Natsumi Tapas—and the extensive menu invites guests to return again and again.

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We visited the beautifully decorated space on a warm Monday night, which is usually a relaxed night but after a weekend of rain, the restaurant was quite busy with excited diners. Despite the surprising influx, the staff was warm and accommodating offering pleasantries as we were seated. In addition to its food service, Natsumi Tapas also offers fully stocked bar with signature cocktails. Before dinner, we enjoyed a quick round of drinks. For a light but refreshing starter, we recommend the “Rising Sangria” a sweet mixture of Lambrusco red wine, Blackberry brandy, and peach schnapps. For a stronger beverage opt for the “Whiskey Hunny” a powerful combination of redemption rye and Yuzu honey.

Glancing over the menu we realized how daunting it can be choosing just a few dishes. With the endless possibilities with Japanese and Italian food, we were overwhelmed, and since ordering the entire menu wasn’t an option, we found salvation in their assortment of samplers. Having a sampler gave us the chance to try several items without doing too much damage to our waistlines. We settled on two samplers, the “Crispy Flight” and the “Meatball Taster”. The Crispy Flight is an assortment of fried goodies. The sampler plate features, Japanese crispy chicken, rock shrimp tempura and fried Japanese squid.

The meatball taster, as its name suggests, is a dish of meatballs with three different sauces, served with bread sticks for dipping.

If you enjoy spicy Tom Yum soup you will love the King Crab dumpling. The flavor packed dumplings are served with a generous helping of delicious Tom Yum broth. While the dish is spicy, the spice level enhances the dumplings without overpowering.

As carnivores, we couldn’t pass up short ribs. The short ribs here are grilled with mixed vegetables and sliced like stir-fry for an easy boneless treat.

If you’d rather have surf than turf we recommend the grilled tiger shrimp. These jumbo shrimp are juicy and tender drizzled with a spicy sesame garlic sauce.

Ordinarily, the thought of tartar forces us to cringe involuntarily but Natsumi’s version of the popular appetizer is as delicious as it is beautiful. The tuna tartar arrives Instagram ready, a beautifully plated dish that’s almost too pretty to eat. In addition to its good looks, the dish is filled with rich flavors and textures. The dish features tuna, avocado, mango and basil pesto.

Natsumi Tapas nyc (46)

Going to a restaurant with a sushi bar and not having the sushi is like going to a steakhouse for bottled water, an absolutely wasted opportunity. We couldn’t leave without having a roll, or two. We chose the “Fortissimo” and the “Wolf Hall” specialty rolls. The Fortissimo is filled with seared salmon toro, avocado, pepperoncini, and parmesan.

The Wolf Hall is the trifecta of sushi platters with a trio of spicy bites. This small platter has spicy tuna, spicy super white tuna and spicy salmon over a tempura roll.

Natsumi Tapas’ interpretation of Japanese-Italian fusion is an interesting and delicious mixture of simple elegantly prepared dishes. With so many options to choose from in both cuisines, the chef’s level of restraint has created a fun menu of new and exciting variations while also preserving the integrity of each dish. With our ever-evolving palettes, it can be difficult to please everyone but Natsumi Tapas’ inventive menu offers original dishes that allow even the pickiest eater to indulge without straying too far from their comfort zone.

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Natsumi Tapas is located at 323 Third Avenue at 24th Street,, 1-(212)-889-2182, and is open Monday & Tuesday 11:30am – 11pm, Wednesday – Friday 11:30am – 12am, Saturday 4:30pm – 12am, and Sunday 4:30pm – 11pm. The restaurant seats 35 in the bar lounge and 65 in the dining room. There will also be an outdoor café.  Private events, catering, and delivery is available.