Marea, NYC 2
December 20, 2010
On Sunday, November 28, 2010, Linda and I had lunch at Marea before an afternoon performance of Brief Encounter at the nearby Studio 54. (Yes, that Studio 54, where we nightclubbed in 1978, now converted into a theater.)
We had been to Marea in July 2009, two months after its much-hyped opening and had been disappointed. But it gets the highest Italian rating in Zagat and two stars in Michelin so it seemed worth trying again.
As one of the early arrivals, we were seated in a nice corner table. There is a special Sunday lunch menu with two courses for $42. The selection seemed to be very interesting. After a good discussion with the friendly, young sommelier, we ordered a bottle of 2009 Mataòssu “Vigneto Reiné.” Kermit Lynch, its importer, writes that it is:
“made in the tiny town of Varigotti, Italy, right on the ocean in the wine-producing region of Liguria. The Ruffino family is famous in their hometown but little known elsewhere, even in Italy. They’ve been making wine in Varigotti since 1500! Mataòssu “Vigneto Reiné.” is a dry white, and the pride and joy of the domaine – rightfully so – Mataòssu is cultivated nowhere else in the world! Only in Varigotti. It has been mentioned in the local archives since 1200. This indigenous vine thrives on steep, terraced parcels above the sea but is very difficult to work. The Ruffino family has nurtured their parcel to eighty years of age.”
It was similar to a Vermentino, but flintier, too much so at first, but very nice with the seafood. Linda and I have spent the night in Varigotti and found it charming. We had a risotto fruitti di mare that was superb.
Linda’s primo was
seared Nantucket bay scallops, braised endive, pomegranate, pistachios
She wrote: “The Nantucket bay scallops were delicately and well done, with a small amount of well-braised endive and abundant pomegranate seeds.”
My primo was
grilled octopus , smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, chilies, tonnato
This was excellent. The piece of octopus was nicely charred on the outside and tender on the inside with a lot of flavor. The potatoes were also exquisitely cooked. The sauces were mild and just added a touch of variety.
Linda’s secondo was
UOVO E CAVIALE
brioche, poached eggs, crab, sea urchin zabaglione, caviar
This dish was served just warm to preserve the lusciousness of the sauce, the sea urchin sabayon.
My secondo was
wild striped bass, beluga lentils, puntarella, hazelnuts, red pepper soffrito
The fish was perfectly cooked. Lentils are a surprising accompaniment to me, but they went very well.
As the service had been at a good pace, we still had plenty of time and asked for the dolci menu.
ASSAGIO DI TRE GELATI
vanilla, hazelnut, mint chocolate chip
followed by an espresso with biscotti.
There were little mignardises
served with a complementary glass of Casalone Mariposa, made from Bracchetto grapes, grown in Piemonte, a slightly sweet, slightly sparkling, low-alcohol red wine.
This meal was very good, up to Marea’s ratings. The $42 Sunday lunch menu for two courses of this quality is a real bargain. We’ll be back to try the tasting menu.
To see our previous meal at Marea click here.