240 Central Park S
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 3/1/15
Given it’s been a good six years since I had been to New York City, the list of restaurants I want to try is overwhelming. So, narrowing down a coveted dinner choice was a challenging (though exciting!) task. I wanted a restaurant that would be brand new to everyone dining (my parents and I) and something a little less of a marathon given the extended tasting menus of the previous dinners. Marea is a restaurant that’s been on my radar since opening in 2009 and fit the bill for this meal. An Italian seafood restaurant, the restaurant currently holds two Michelin stars and ranks #93 in the latest best restaurants in the world list.
While a la carte and by-request tasting menus are available, I suspect most diners choose the $97 4-course pre-fixe, which basically allows one to choose 4 dishes off the a la carte menu (one crudo/antipasti, one pasta, one main and a dessert). Note that there are some pricing supplements for some of the more expensive dishes. My mom, dad and I went for the pre-fixe menu adding one small plate to share as an addition.
RICCI sea urchin, lardo, sea salt
Served slightly warmed, this showed off flavors of the sea with porky accents. Really interesting; I enjoyed these bites.
SCAMPI pacific langoustine, murray river pink salt
MACCARELLO pacic horse mackerel, fennel, cucumber, citrus, basil
ONO seared wild pacic wahoo, frutti di mare, basil
All of the varieties in this crudo tasting were good; the restaurant clearly has access to some high quality fish (as expected). My favorite was the langoustine – I loved the springy texture and natural sweetness.
POLIPO grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, radish, pickled red onions, chilies, tonnato
Tender octopus had a nice exterior char, slightly smoky, complemented by creamy potatoes and bitter greens. A good dish with familiar flavor combinations.
STROZZAPRETI jumbo lump crab, sea urchin, basil
A bowl of rich sea goodness. Sea urchin was definitely upfront in the sauce with a great al dente pasta and crunchy breadcrumbs. Delicious.
FUSILLI red wine braised octopus, bone marrow
This was another great pasta, a signature dish of the restaurant. Tomato braised octopus was tender and the sauce flavorful, while the fusilli really held up to the sauce. My only gripe is that one portion only had about three pieces of octopus while another portion seemed to have eight to ten pieces – a sharp contrast in my octopus-to-pasta ratios (shown in the two images above). My personal preference was probably right in between those two ratios.
DENTICE steamed pacific snapper, gigante beans, pine nuts, clams, saffron brodo
Moving into the main courses brought this beautiful snapper course, perfectly steamed. Moist, light and flaky, this was a delicious fish with saffron accents in the broth and creamy beans. The garlic chips that didn’t melt into the broth added some delicate texture and flvor to the dish.
IPPOGLOSSO crusted canadian halibut, carrots, sunchokes, almonds, blood orange
My mom enjoyed her halibut, cooked perfectly with a nice breaded herb crust.
BRODETTO DI PESCE adriatic seafood soup, clams, langoustine, scallop, prawns, bass
My dad went for this server-recommended hearty soup but was less-than-impressed.
BROCCOLI RABE, TOMATO BRAISED PORK RIBS
Just to keep things sort of healthy we also ordered some greens. These were braised in a tomato sauce with small bits of pork and topped with cheese. Less healthy than anticipated but more delicious.
Done with the savory, we moved on to dessert.
AFFOGATO vanilla gelato, espresso and amaro
I thoroughly enjoyed this affogato, simple as always but the shot of amaro provided a nice edge to the dessert.
PANNA COTTA fior di latte panna cotta, green apple, roasted pineapple sorbetto
My mom went for the panna cotta, the lightest of the dessert trio. It was done well with bright fruit flavors.
BOMBOLONI dark chocolate, honey, earl grey
Doughnuts arrived warm at the table with chocolate and honey accompaniments.
MIGNARDISES passion fruit marshmallow, salted caramel bon bon, pomegranate pate de fruit
Dinner at Marea was a very good one. For comparative sake, it unfortunately followed dinners at Le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park and failed to quite excite as much as those two. However, food was delicious (especially the pastas) and the seafood consistently shined. Attention to detail may have been a little below expectations though, particularly with the fusilli and in the service. Overall service was okay, but I was surprised to find not all of the dishes explained at the table as served. In some cases, just one of the dishes was explained but the other two plates plopped down unannounced. Didn’t detract a whole lot from the overall meal, but it was definitely noticeable.