Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Marea - Review

Marea - Dude Grade: A-
240 Central Park S
New York NY 10019
Btwn Broadway & 7th Ave
Phone: (212) 582-5100

Porthos has been raving about this place for a while now, so my wife decided to take me out to Marea for my birthday. I've been to Michael White's former place Convivio and I was such a big fan, but this place is at a whole 'nuther level. I'm completely blown away how delicious the food is here - the technique, the balance - just everything is spot on. Highly, highly recommended.

Our Menu

Ricci ***
Sea Urchin, Lardo, Sea Salt
The ultimate example of food porn. Unctuous pig fat on sexy, sweet uni? Seriously - a complete WTF little bite.

SABA local spanish mackarel, tangerine, almonds taragon **
SCAMPI pacific langoustines, murray river pink salt ***
PASSERA long island fluke, lemon thyme, ligurian olive oil **
Second course and this was outstanding to me. I've had crudo before, but this was definitely at a whole 'nother level. Each fish was pristine - great texture and clean flavors. The accompaniments were just that - little things to enhance the flavor without losing the flavor of the fish. Reminded of what Psilakas did at the phenomenal Anthos. The winner was the ridiculous langoustines - a perfect little sweet bite.

Oysters *
with morellino mignonette & cucumber-lemon vinegar
These were fun, but after going to Elliot's Oyster House in Seattle I'm always jaded with oysters. What did make this more fun was the cucumber-lemon vinegar - just perfectly bright and clean.

nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil
Fourth course and a complete WTF moment. The creamy flavorful burrata against the sweet perfectly cooked lobster and you're in heaven.

UOVO ***
slow poached egg, snow crab, leeks, cardoon, bagna cauda

Another dish, another WTF moment. This thing was sex on a plate. Egg was perfectly slow poached - combine the sexy yolk with the sweet snow crab and the crispy bread and my head exploded. At this point we initially ordered a 6 course tasting menu - but after reading the line of scrimmage I decided to audible to the 8 course tasting menu.


ruby red shrimp, chilies, rosemary
Texture on the orchiette was so spot on and this was a delicious dish. My only complaint was it was a tad over salted for me. My wife thought it was fine though.

veal ravioli, sweetbreads, funghi
Rebound on the pasta as this was the best pasta dish I've had in a long friggin time. The agnolotti had a perfect texture and the filling was so flavorful and uber juicy. The creamy sweetbreads and delicious mushrooms were overkill, but in a good way.

new zealand john dory, hen of the woods mushrooms, potatoes, artichokes, charred onion, salmoriglio
Perfect cookery of the john dory where it was crispy, flavorful and still relatively moist. The combination of all the ingredients seemed like it would be too much, but it definitely worked out.

grilled creekstone farms 50 day dry aged sirloin, bone marrow panzanella
I never order steak anymore since I am usually disappointed for the price. This dish may have changed my mind. The steak was soooo flavorful and perfectly cooked and they rocked a play on the caesar salad with the cooked romaine and the bone marrow bread crumbs. This thing completely rocked.

hazelnut, dark chocolate, lemon, mint
This was a chocolate and hazelnut flavor bomb. The gelati had a perfect texture and great flavor and the cake was pretty damn tasty. Unfortunately, I was stuffed and hit with a bit of sensory overload, so this was a bit too much for me at this point. But, if I ordered this any other time, I think I would have been floored by this.

fromage blanc panna cotta, mandarin orange, pink peppercorn, thyme
A bright and creamy panna cotta with a delicious mandarin orange. The peppercorn was a nice twist and gave the dish a pop.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (A) – Spectacular Italian food and completely blown away with the stuff they're doing here. The breads were delicious - olive focaccia was so light, fluffy and flavorful.
  • Service (B-) – Service was off in my opinion for an expensive joint. We were seated immediately, but we did not get a menu till a good 10-15 minutes. It also appeared there were 5x the number of bar backs to waiters, so the waiters were definitely scarce making it hard to get their attention there for things like drinks. Once the food was ordered though, the food came out a decent pace. The waitress was very friendly as well and the service got better after the initial hick up.
  • Atmosphere (B) – The place reminded of Convivio even using the same leather chairs if I recall. Very bright and colorful atmosphere which was refreshing for a high end restaurant. The place consisted of large groups and couples young and old. We got there at 6pm on a Thursday and it was getting pretty busy. Towards the end it was completely packed.
  • Price (B+) - About $165 for the 8 course tasting menu and the caliber of the ingredients and cooking was definitely worth it. A bit pricey, but not as bad as some of the really expensive joints like Per Se, Daniel, etc.
Closing Comments
This is definitely tops in my book for fancy Italian food in NYC - no comparison.


patrick said...

8 courses at Marea? I'm drooling!
But, you really should have included the red wine braised octopus with bone marrow and house-made fusilli. Go for it next time.


Aramis said...

Noted! Marea was so friggin awesome that I definitely will go back and look out for the octopus and fusili.

patrick said...

You won't be sorry! (For reference - my background is as a French trained (former)chef, and now part time traveller/eater. The octopus at Marea was one of the best things I have EVER eaten.) Can you access my e-mail? I'd like to know how much you like it.