ESCA is the just right combination of Dave Pasternack's refined cooking sensibility coupled with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's restaurateur expertise. A winning collaboration, Dave, Mario and Joe have combined their interests and styles to showcase the food they love in a relaxed yet elegant setting.
In 2005, The New Yorker identified Dave's strength as "knowing when something needs a little something." Similarly, Frank Bruni, in his three-star New York Times review of ESCA, called Dave a "fish whisperer." Indeed, Dave respects the nuances of fish cookery and embraces its subtleties. In 2004, the James Beard Foundatioin recognized Dave as Best Chef: New York City. He's also an avid fisherman and is equally enthusiastic about catching fish as he is about serving it. At ESCA, freshness reigns, whether it's a just-caught halibut from the Pacific, flown in a few hours before dinner or a local striped bass caught by Dave himself at home on the Long Island Sound.
A Seattle-bred, New York-based restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality, Mario Batali is known for his signature style — brazen meets sophisticated, forward meets enduring. He was named Man of the Year in the chef category by GQ Magazine in 1999. In 2002, he won the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: New York City award and in 2005 the James Beard Foundation awarded Mario Outstanding Chef of the Year. Mario is also one of the recipients of the 2001 D'Artagnan Cervena Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America, a prestigious lifetime achievement award. Most recently, he and Joe Bastianich were awarded the 2008 James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurateur Award. Mario splits his time between New York City's Greenwich Village and northern Michigan with his wife Susan Cahn of Coach Dairy Goat Farm, and their two sons.
After studying finance and spending a year on Wall Street, Joe bought a one-way ticket to Italy and explored the country's small corners, keeping food and wine a top priority. He came back to New York and opened Becco with his mother, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, and then partnered with Mario to open Babbo, which garnered three coveted stars from the New York Times and the prestigious Best New Restaurant in America award from the James Beard Foundation — indeed, the prophetic beginning of their thriving collection of restaurants. Joe is also a passionate wine-maker and teacher and wrote, with David Lynch, Vino Italiano. In 2005 he was recognized as an Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional by both the James Beard Foundation and Bon Appétit. Most recently, he and Mario were awarded the 2008 James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurateur Award. Joe feels fortunate to be "working within the vernacular of the Italian table."
After graduating from Pratt Institute in 2004 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration, Tracy Obolsky found herself tending bar and tinkering around with baking in her free time. Her background in design slowly began to emerge via her passion for cake-making, which eventually led her to attend the French Culinary Institute in 2007. Her first pastry position was Pastry Sous Chef at Borough Food and Drink, where she quickly ascended to the role of Pastry Chef. She moved on to Madison and Vine, where she oversaw all pastry production and later helped establish the pastry department for the first Five Napkin Burger. After a stint at Cookshop in 2008, she took a job as a pastry cook at General Green in Brooklyn, where she was soon promoted to Pastry Chef. While at General Greene, Obolsky developed the recipes for Greene Ice Cream, which The New York Times dubbed "the holy grail of all ice creams in New York City." She assumed the position of Pastry Chef at Esca in 2009 at the age of 26.