Your local source for local flavor.

Portsmouth, NH, USA
(& beyond)

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Magnificent door that exists behind the bar in the Wine Cave

Magnificent door that exists behind the bar in the Wine Cave

On a cold wintery night, a little while ago, we made our way to Commercial Alley in downtown Portsmouth, NH. As we escaped the snow, we made the acquaintance of John Akar, Proprietor and General Manager of Cava Tapas Wine & Bar. Once there, we were able to ask a few questions, eat some fantastic food, and capture each moment with our camera.

We're happy to be here, John. We've found that Cava has quite the reputation among local restaurant-goers. Could you please elaborate?

Cava is a Mediterranean tapas and wine bar. Cava is the dream of my long time friend, Gregg Sessler, and mine. Featuring two wine bars, one on street level and one in our Wine Cave, we offer a diverse and always changing selection of international wines to be paired with Chef Sessler's modern and classic Mediterranean cuisine. Chef Sessler uses only the freshest seasonal products available to create his innovative menus. Our Chef’s tasting Menu is one of our most popular ways to dine at Cava. It features 8 courses, served proportionally, for the number of people ordering it. It is $30 per person and also includes a wine pairing option that is an additional $35 per person!

The Crooked Lane Margarita, as shown here on the bar in the Wine Cave.

The Crooked Lane Margarita, as shown here on the bar in the Wine Cave.

Cava's Chef's Table is comprised of four seats right off the kitchen in the center of the dining room. By sitting at the Chef's Table, we had a front row seat to all of the action. John introduced us to the very talented Gregg Sessler, Proprietor and Chef at Cava. As we awaited our first Tapas dish, we quenched our thirst with flavorful refreshments. We started off with the Crooked Lane Margarita.

John, what is in this delicious drink?

Sauza Hornitos, St. Germain, freshly muddled citrus, topped with red Sangria.

Then one at a time, the Tapas arrived; each one tasting out of this world, with an aesthetically pleasing presentation to match it. What is the first?

The first dish is a day boat scallop cruda which is topped with mango pearls and pine nuts.

As we ate, Chef Sessler and his team prepared each dish in front of us. We watched as our next dish was crafted with a high level of expertise. What is this one?

Second, we have our star anise rubbed sirloin, served with a mirapoix (carrot, onion, and celery) puree and topped with queso de valdeon blue cheese.
Gregg Sessler, Proprietor and Chef of Cava, prepares the Beef Sirloin

Gregg Sessler, Proprietor and Chef of Cava, prepares the Beef Sirloin


Everything tasted so good! We ordered dish after dish, never wanting to leave. But finally, it was time for dessert.

A perfect dish to end on, what is in it that makes it so tasty?

Lastly, we have Valrhona manjari chocolate which is accompanied by raspberries and a whipped vanilla cream.

We loved being here. Please touch on being an independently owned restaurant in Portsmouth, NH.

The number one joy that Gregg and I get from owning our business is the friendships we have made with our clientele everyday. I describe a day of work like preparing your home for dinner of great wine and food to be enjoyed with friends. Being surrounded by friends on a nightly basis turns our job into something memorable!

It was an awesome night filled with drinks, laughs, and of course, FOOD! Centrally located, Cava should be one of your first picks for wining and dining in Portsmouth. The vibe is more than welcoming and John and Gregg go above and beyond to bring their guests the ultimate restaurant experience.

Their doors are open Sunday to Thursday from 5:00pm to 9:00pm and on Friday & Saturday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm. They can be found at 10 Commercial Alley Portsmouth, NH. Head over to their website, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook to be more involved with the happenings of Cava.

If you think we just had three dishes, think again! We were lucky enough to also try the falafel (made with tatatoule, pickled red onion, and roasted pepper), the mussels escabeche (made with sherry, torched grapefruit, and fennel), the crisp pork belly (made with tximitxurri and sea salt) and kristin’s famous churros (with "hot chocolate"). Check out all of these extra dishes and more, below. Feel free to leave us a comment, share this blog, and like our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!