Marea, NYC 3
April 25, 2011
Marea was somewhat controversial when it opened in May, 2009. We found it quite disappointing when we went two months later, but we had a good meal at a small lunch in 2010. We were also encouraged by its two Michelin stars and its Zagat rating near the top in both the Italian and seafood categories. So we were quite curious what we would find when Linda and I went for dinner with John on March 29, 2011. The question was heightened as we had experienced disappointment at Marea chef Michael White’s Ai Fiori the week before.
We arrived early and enjoyed glasses of prosecco at the bar. We were seated at the exact time of our reservation at a cozy table for three in a little nook. (This was the other table in the nook, also for three.)
We ordered two of Marea’s “…e per cominciare” appetizers; the brandade was offered by the house.
house made salt cod brandade, crostini
The brandade was fresh, light and tasted of the cod. The crunchy, warm crostini were the perfect foil.
seaweed, shrimp and chickpea fritters
These were very hot when served. They resembled the accras de morue of the French Antilles, but with a more refined flavor.
The menu has à la carte prices, but the rational option is four courses chosen from the menu for $89, an amazing bargain. We ordered a bottle of 2009 Noname Altavia Vermentino/Viognier; we enjoy Ligurian wines as well as those two grapes. It had good varietal flavors, but was a bit thin.
The bread basket was passed and we all chose the rosemary foccaccia, which was fresh warm and very good. The amuse-gueule was a nice little glass of lobster custard with chopped vegetables.
Linda’s first course was
slow poached egg, snow crab, leeks, cardoon, bagna cauda
She said that it was an unusual, but very good, combination with plenty of crab to go with the perfectly cooked egg.
John started with
nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil
The lobster was nicely cooked to bring out its flavor. The other ingredients were a surprising combination, but worked well.
grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, chilies, tonnato
The octopus had been heavily charred, enhancing its good flavor without making it tough or dry. The other ingredients had definite tastes which went well in small quantities.
John’s risotto was
shrimp, lobster, scallops, rouget
This risotto brought out the seafood flavors.
At this point, the wine director came by to see how things were going. We said that we would like a second wine that was a bit more robust. He proposed a 2009 Massican “Gemina,” an Italian-style blend of 60% Viognier from the Russian River Valley, 20% Ribola Gialla from Napa Valley and 20% Chardonnay from Carneros. We enjoyed it.
Linda and my pasta was
crab, santa barbara sea urchin, basil
Fortunately our attentive waiter asked us if we wanted this dish to be spicy. Marea’s record on us in Open Table showed that Linda cannot eat spicy foods. This showed the restaurant’s attention to clients and their preferences. Red pepper flakes are a normal part of this dish, even though they are not mentioned on the menu. We declined them and enjoyed the crab and fresh tomato flavor made more luscious by the sea urchin in the background.
Linda’s main course was
seared local striped bass, hen of the woods mushrooms, potatoes, artichokes, charred onion, salmoriglio.
She said that the searing gave the bass a nice, added flavor. The combination with the vegetables was good.
John and my main was
herb crusted east coast halibut, broccoli rabe, soppressata, royal trumpet mushroom, cipolini
The halibut was nicely enhanced by the herb crust. The little cubes of spicy salami added a porky, peppery richness without being too assertive.
John had the
hazelnut dark chocolate
My dessert was the
CROSTATA DI CIOCCOLATO
milk chocolate ganache, amaretto cream
Bravo Michael White.
To see our post on our lunch at Marea in December 2010 click here.
To see our post on our dinner at Marea in July 2009 click here.