Meaning "Tide" in Italian, Marea is the restaurant of Chef Michael White who succeeded to get two restaurants with Michelin Stars: Marea and Ai Fiori. With its two stars, Marea is a fantastic experience, from the food to the service, focusing mainly on seafood, not surprising considering its name. If you are vegetarian, they are couple of dishes, and it is the sort of establishment that will accommodate without any problem to create vegetarian dishes on the fly (well, I am sure they have couple already created just in case).
Here is what we tried at Marea:
For a cocktail, I tried their Cask-strength old Fashioned, made with russell's reserve "altamarea" single barrel bourbon, oleo saccharin and bitters.
Once we ordered, they brought to us a cauliflower croquette with anchovy aioli, a delicious bite that was a great way to start the meal.
Then some bread: we both chose their house made focaccia made with rosemary and garlic. Problem was that it was really good andI tried not to eat it as we knew we would have a great meal coming...
We decided to go for their four course dinner, but I decided to add a fifth dish: the vongole crudo made with razor clams, crustacean aioli, confit endive and lime. They do have a great selection of crudo, from octopus to scallops or fish like bass or trout, but went with razor clams as I rarely see them on a menu. The dish was small for sure, but very good, fresh with a nice acidity.
For her first dish, Jodi picked a dish made with mushroom and white asparagus.
On my side, I chose the Polipo or grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, radish pickled red onions, chilies and tonnato. The octopus was delicious, not rubbery and nicely charred.
Then came the pasta dish. Jodi had the risotto funghi, made with wild mushrooms and parmesan cheese. This was a very good risotto, the rice having some bite to it and it is the kind of dish that mushroom lovers like Jodi would love.
My pasta dish was the Garganelli with black truffle, bang caudal and parmesan cheese. Bagna caudal is a sauce or dip from Piedmont typically made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter. The dish looked very appetizing and was superb: the house made pasta were perfectly cooked al dente, and not only the sauce was amazing, tasting more butter than anchovies, but there was lots of truffle.
Third course (more fourth for me...), was a beautiful faro salad with mushrooms for Jodi
and the scampi or langoustine from New Zealand with a side of salad for me (I had a choice between salad or potatoes and picked the healthy choice considering the feast we were having). This was very good: the langoustine were simply grilled, served with some butter sauce, and I appreciated the fact that the meat could be easily removed from the shell.
We finished the meal with a succulent dessert: the bomboloni or Italian doughnuts, served with a lemon cream and a strawberry compote. These were awesome and I did not need any cream or compote with them as they were good on their own.
The second dessert was the Delizie al Limone, a lemon chiffon cake served with lemon curd and a meyer lemon gelato. It was beautiful, but I admit that I was not as enthusiastic about it, the dessert being just ok for my taste.
But it was not the end: with the check, they brought some chocolate with hazelnut, a nice touch to end a delicious meal.
We left Marea full, glad that we had a chance to try this place that definitely deserved to be rewarded. Not only the food was good, but the service was also on the spot.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Marea - 240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10021