Oceana's Lobster Bolognese / Photo: Noah Fecks
Lobster Bolognese at Oceana / Photo Credit: Noah Fecks

It’s a rare occasion for a restaurant to successfully be all things to all people, but Midtown landmark seafood restaurant Oceana is more than capable of filling that difficult bill.

Located in a new massive — yet somehow intimate and warmly-welcoming — room on the ground floor of the McGraw Hill Building on Publishing Row, it is a friendly destination for diner of virtually every stripe. Nestled in a business district that borders theater alley, Oceana draws customers from every corner of the city…and the globe.

The beautiful décor featuring high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows and lush baquettes and beautiful aquamarine lobster tanks provides both comfort and a stylish environment for those seeking a serious night out. The expansive dining room allows for a festive and friendly atmosphere, but each table seems to be its own cozy universe. The experience is made all the more delightful by the staff that is both helpful and friendly without ever being intrusive.

And then there’s the food.

Executive Chef Bill Telepan / Photo: Noah Fecks
Executive Chef Bill Telepan / Photo: Noah Fecks

Prepared by Chef Bill Telepan, classically-trained at the Culinary Institute Of America — and the former owner of the critically-acclaimed, Michelin-starred Telepan Restaurant on the Upper West Side — the dishes each offer unique tastes and presentations without sacrificing traditional flavors.

“I have been inspired by many influences and chefs,” Telepan said when speaking to Downtown. “I try to match all the things that I’ve learned and experienced and see what I come up with — and seafood is a fabulous foundation to start with.”

The Valentine’s Day experience at Oceana was a tremendous microcosm of the warmth, quality and excellence the restaurant has offered daily in its more than two-decade, two-location history.

The four-course menu offered both simple and inventive presentations of a wide array of offerings with the option of an exquisite wine pairing chosen by an expert house sommelier, who provided perfect complements that took EACH dish to yet another level of excellence.

Such traditional fare as crab cakes tuna tartar were enhanced by clever flavoring and and pairings with spicy cole slaw and pickled mushrooms, respectively. A delicious lobster Bolognese leapt out of the mundane with sprinklings of light herbs and garlic in a traditional tomato broth. An amazing wild striped bass was expertly coupled with a stirring lobster potato hash and red wine sauce. A wide offering of desserts was crowned by a hypnotizingly-delicious Chocolate Sphere — helmed by Chef Douglas Hernandez — as packed with a luscious mousse, white chocolate and tasty Nutella powder.

But perhaps most delicious was the charming surroundings and staff that made the romantic atmosphere palpable and something worth returning for any day of the year!

Oceana is located at 120 West 49th Street. For more information, please go to www.oceanarestaurant.com.