Posted by: Hungry Korean | August 16, 2012

Marea

For my actual birthday, Cookie Monster took me back to Marea. We ate there once several years ago (you can find that review on my blog via search) and I really enjoyed the food.  Michael White is a genius with pasta and seafood and Marea is a marriage of both things.  The restaurant is quite pretty – it’s modern with a bit of classic thrown in and the tables are covered in white tablecloth so it’s definitely upscale dining. The patrons range from your typical older socialite to a smattering of bankers and couples of all kinds.  When seated I noted that the china had the restaurant’s name on it.

 

We got the tasting menu of four courses. You get an option of crudo, ostriche, or antipasto for first course, a choice of pasta for second course, fish or meat for third course and then choice of dessert for fourth. The great thing about this tasting is you have free reign of the entire menu and aren’t restricted to certain options. I really liked that and for $97 this is a deal at Marea.

An amuse bouche came our way. Scallop crudo with a sweet corn relish:

Scallop was so sweet and only enhanced by that corn. Yum.

One thing I am obsessed with at Marea (and Marea is actually quite famous for this along with the octopus and bone marrow pasta) is the sea urchin with melted lardo and sea salt over a piece of toasted bread. It is not part of the tasting but listed under “items to be shared” and I had to get it as a supplement to our meal. HAD TO.

 

It is a generous generous heaping of that sweet briny sea urchin topped with a very thin slice of melted cured pork fat and it is heaven. The pork fat is slightly salty and it lends deeper decadence to the sea urchin. I love it. LOVE IT. I gave Cookie Monster a bite because he should try it and then I ate the rest. He still isn’t a fan of sea urchin straight up so  it was a waste giving it to him. lol

First course we both chose to get a choice of 3 crudo tasting (an additional supplement):

Left to right: langoustines with murray river pink salt (sweet, simple and really allowed the langoustines to shine – amazing), cuttlefish tagliatelle with soffrito crudo and bottarga di muggine (tacky texture to every bite and although tender, it had a pretty fishy aftertaste), and wild pacific wahoo with apple marmellata, red pepper oil and parsley (a meaty fish that was only made tastier by the spike of sweetness from the apple).  The crudo list is extensive and we took forever trying to figure out which ones to pick! I wanted them all!

I can’t remember what Cookie Monster opted for so I’m not going to post the photo or review.

For pasta course, Cookie Monster got the risotto with shrimp, lobster, scallops and rouget:

 

We literally have strong reason to believe the resto messed up and delivered him a full portion because it was HUGE. (Couple next to us had half that serving.) Of course he ate the whole thing and then complained he was full haha. I found that the flavors were great but the risotto was undercooked and a bit tough or al dente. I like my risotto soft and luscious and this could have used some more cooking.

I got another very famous dish from Marea- the spaghetti with crab, santa barbara sea urchin and basil:

 

This was definitely a half portion although I wish it were full! It was SOOO delicious. There are no actual chunks of uni because it’s tossed and melted into the sauce but it added depth to a basic tomato and basil sauce. It’s hard to explain – it was a bit creamier, brinier…But it was the best spaghetti I’ve had in awhile. It tastes like the famous tomato and basil spaghetti from Scarpetta bumped up a notch. The pasta was cooked perfectly. We both oohed and aahed over this. Cookie Monster had severe food envy.

For third course, we both got a fish dish. I got the local striped bass, roasted baby carrots, lamb’s quarters, fregola sarda, chanterelles and hazelnuts:

 

Fish cooked PERFECT. So moist with a bit of crunchier bits from the pan searing. Everything worked so well together. Striped bass is a meatier fish and has heft to it, so being served with more fall-like items such as roasted carrots, mushrooms, hazelnuts went really well together. It was like a really good meat dish but instead it’s served with fish.

Cookie Monster got the crusted alaskan halibut, local corn, roasted zucchini, arugula and confit tomatoes:  

 

Omigosh, whatever they crusted that halibut with was delicious. Halibut doesn’t have much flavor to it in my opinion so the crust really added alot and made it special. If you prefer a slightly sweeter fish dish, this is for you because the sweet corn added sweetness while the other ingredients added freshness. So while my fish dish was more fall, this was definitely summer and spring on a plate.

Palate cleanser of a watermelon shooter:  It was very vibrant – watermelon juice with simple syrup. I remarked that this would be a really delicious summer cocktail!

 

For dessert course, Cookie Monster got the affogato with brown butter gelato, espresso and myer’s dark rum:

This is a very decadent frappuccino of sorts. It is extremely thick and creamy from the gelato and then there is a burst of rich dark nuttiness from the espresso.

I got the deep fried doughnuts, amaretto crema, espresso crumble chocolate sauce, white espresso gelato:

 

Yes….it is as delicious as it sounds and looks. How can deep fried dough sprinkled generously with sugar be bad? It was light and fluffly and served hot.

Petite fours finish out the meal:

 

I love Marea – it is really decadent and a good way to celebrate a special occasion. The service is very knowledgeable and attentive and everything is a feast for your senses and stomach. Their seafood and pastas really are a standout.  I wish I could eat here all the time!!!

Marea, 240 Central Park South, New York, NY

 

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