We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Exceptional Experience.”
Review of Cava

Ranked #17 of 204 Restaurants in Portsmouth
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Mediterranean
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene, Romantic, Special occasions, Local cuisine
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations
Description: Cava is located in the heart of historic downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Just a brief walk from the Portsmouth Parking Garage and the Ladd street access. We are located in the middle of quaint Commercial Alley. The walking alley way is home to several small businesses and Cava's Vertical Garden. Dine under the Northeasts only outdoor living wall. Cava is the dream of two long time friends John Akar and Gregg Sessler. Together they combined their years of experience in the restaurant business to build Cava. Featuring two wine bars, one on the street level, and one in our Wine Cave. John offers a diverse 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. Join Chef Sessler and his team at the Chef's Table for dinner and a show. *Cava accepts reservations for parties of 4 or more for our dining tables. *Cava accepts reservations for parties of 4 and under at our Chefs Table.*If you are a party under four people and are not interested in the Chef's Table, all seating is based on a first come first serve basis.*During Restaurant Week Cava will accept reservations for all seating, including our bar seating, for parties of two or more.*For Valentine's Day and New Years Eve, Cava will be accepting reservations for all seating, including our bar seating, for parties of two or more.*It is always a good idea if you are a party of four or more, or if you would like to sit at the Chef's Table to make a reservation in advance Cava.
Reviewed October 28, 2013

In Portsmouth for the evening, and sat at the chef's table. Incredible experience. Justin was the chef for the evening, and was great to speak with. He was patient with all of our questions (and there were many), gave insightful answers, all while producing an incredible meal. Every bite was one to remember.

At $32/person, this may be the best value for the experience in New England.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank Daniel T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (456)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year

257 - 261 of 456 reviews

Reviewed October 27, 2013

We were shopping in Portsmouth and looking for place for a quick drink and an appetizer as most of the nicer restaurants didn't open for dinner until 5. It was about fifteen minutes prior and the Maitre d' welcomed us in early. We hadn't actually planned for an evening of fine dining and we felt a little under dressed and out of place laden with shopping bags and layered fall attire. However, the staff was so inviting that we decided we might as well make an evening of it. Good choice, there.

For the quality of the food, interesting ingredients and superb presentations, the prices are fair and reasonable. Portions are small, served at about two bites per person, and meant to leave you wanting more of each course. Most people will leave the restaurant "not hungry" or somewhat satisfied after a six course tasting menu with wine but far from stuffed or waddling. One couldn't be blamed for wondering if the quantity served was worth the price but then you start thinking about the wonderful variety of flavors and dozens of ingredients that you just enjoyed and can find real value there.

The most notable aspect of the meal was how each plate, with its multiple ingredients, reached new heights if you mixed them together rather than try each piece. It means wrecking the impeccable presentations but ... that's art! Everything harmonized so well. For example,a hanger steak tasted under-seasoned until you wiped up some of the salty marrow butter with it, then it was just right. The porridge in the mushroom dish was close to a polenta and went perfectly with earthy 'shrooms and snails. A sherry pairing was rich with a raisin flavor that complimented the desert courses. A churros course with chocolate were a surprise gift from our waiter. We had mentioned that one of our party had received good medical news and we were celebrating. Until then, I'd never had a churro that I liked. These were rich and creamy on the inside, almost like a warm cannolli filling, with a crispy cinnamon sugar crust. Very yummy.

The basement dining room is dark and romantic. The service was flawless and friendly. The presentations were artistic without being pretentious. The tasting menu with wine brings you to $70 per person without a before dinner cocktail, fifteen percent meal tax or tip so about $100 might get you an additional small plate (we went with the char grilled baby octopus on ink. I would definitely return.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Sherlockzz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2013

Great spot for creative tasty small plates -- try the octopus -- and excellent wine list. The bartender downstairs makes a top-notch martini too!

2  Thank Olimpio D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2013

First: If it is only two of you, ask to sit at the chefs table -- watching every bite as it is made.
The is a fantastic tapas restaurant. We started with the fabada -- rabbit & blood sausages in a saffron broth with shell beans. It was wonderful! Then we had the brussel sprouts & chestnut. We usually don't like 'sprouts' but ordered them on a wait staff recommendation. We loved them! Then, the white asparagus. What a presentation! Then duck, three ways: fried skin, hearts, and breast all with a spectacular chimichurri. Hanger steak with bone marrow butter was memorable and finally valhrona chocolate with raspberries and white chocolate mousse.
We shared a bottle of Malbec with all of the above.

Adding to the evening was the running conversation and commentary by the owner/chef Gregg Sessler who presented all the dishes.

We live 100 miles away and WILL return!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Bruce D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 17, 2013

I've eaten at several restaurants in Manchester and they are fine, pleasant, not overwhelming. Cava was more than a pleasant surprise and I am still thinking about the meal more than a week later. The tapas are inspired Spanish/ Middle East fusion, beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. True to the tradition but also creative. Everything is paired for two, so going as a couple is ideal. The service was warm and responsive. The wine list is user friendly, all can be ordered by the glass. Go!

Thank WhereAreMyGlasses
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Cava also viewed

Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth, NH

Been to Cava? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing