Thursday, August 21, 2014

Marea

It has been too long since I've last been to Marea. As a big fan of Chef Michael White's restaurants, I really should revisit many of his establishments. The problem is that he keeps opening up more places! How can I balance it all out?
A few months ago, my family and I went out to Marea to celebrate the boys' birthdays as well as Mother's Day. It was an all in one celebration! And was I excited when we decided to go to Marea? Oh heck yes!

The decor remains were beautiful as ever while the tone of the restaurant was bustling with conversation. Service was smooth and attentive as usual. And now the food. The meal started with an amuse bouche of smoked trout and marscapone cheese profiteroles. Little bites of smokey, creamy fish. It tasted rich and lightly of the sea. A really nice savory start to the meal.

The appetizers to start. I had the Moleche ($22) crispy soft shell crab with sicilian granola, nepitella, purslane. This seasonal soft shell crab which was lightly battered and fried served with purslane and onions. This crispy little guy was super delicious! If you're lazy about picking out crab meat from its shell, then this is the dish for you. You eat the whole thing, shell and all. Tender, sweet pieces of crab in every bite.
This is the Astice ($27) which is lightly poached lobster, burrata cheese, eggplant, and basil seeds. A beautiful dish. Tenderly cooked lobster (and plenty of it!), with a sweet creamy cheese then balanced with eggplant and basil. A really classic dish.
The Tonno ($20) crudo with bigeye tuna, oyster crema, and crispy sunchokes looked amazing. Bright red fish, thinly sliced cucumber, silky cream, and crispy sunchoke leaves on top. A really well rounded dish. And seasoned well too. I hate underseasoned food.
A couple of people chose to have pasta as their starter. This is the Gnochetti ($31) with small gnocchi shaped pasta in a light tomato sauce with ruby red shrimp, chilis, and rosemary. A good choice for a lightly pasta dish. The sauce paired well with the lightly chewy gnocchi with the tender sweet shrimp popped up into every bite.
Orecchiette ($31) with shrimp and seppia ragu, broccoletti, and pesto cetarese is another enjoyed pasta dish. Again, a nice light tomato sauce enveloping the tender pieces of shrimp and squid.
For my entree, I wanted something difference and opted for the Brodetto di Pesce ($48) which is an Adriatic soup with clams, langoustine, scallop, prawns, and bass. The amount of whole pieces of seafood given with the soup was very generous. The prefectly grilled halved langoustine, plump prawns, crispy scallops, juicy clams, and tender bass fish was very much enjoyed. The soup itself was an intense seafood flavor. You can tell they worked hard and long to develop this flavor probably using fish bones and shells. The accompanying toasted bread was key to sop up all the lovely soup. The accompanying potatoes and onion was a nice touch as well. I very much enjoyed this.
The Risotto di Mare ($33) with lobster, scallop, halibut, and sea urchin was really luxurious. So creamy and rich with lots of seafood strewn throughout. The stock used to cook the risotto had an equally intense flavor as my soup above. Each grain of absorbed that wonderful ocean flavor.
The Capesante ($41) with seared scallops, oyster mushrooms, grilled endive, and pickled shallots. A beautiful dish with large tender scallops seared until browned on the outside but still slightly raw on the inside. Beautifully executed and no less delicious.
The Branzino ($41) was a local striped bass fish with favas beans, confit potato, italian wheat beer, spring onions. This dish really sung to the spring season. Lightly cooked but buttery fish in a broth with tender potatoes, bright fava beans and onions.
The Ippoglosso ($41) was a glazed alaskan halibut with fregola sarda (Israeli couscous), fried artichokes, preserved lemon, and crawfish. Although this was a seafood dish, it was heavier than some of the other entrees. The meatier fish, the fried artichokes and chewy pearls of couscous. Little tails of sweet peeked out and said hello to your mouth.
We were all pretty full after our savory courses so we decided to share the dessert. To start, the Torta di Fragole ($14) which was a tender cake with strawberries, rhubarb, and ricotta cream, and perilla. Another dish that sung to the seasonal produce. Sweet strawberries, tart rhubarb, and herbaceousness from the perilla. A really nice but not too sweet dessert. I really enjoyed this.
The Semifreddo di Olio ($14) was a super creamy soft frozen dessert with a glaze of chocolate, honey sabayon, and apricots. A really smooth finish with delicate flavors.
Contrary to those two light dessert was the Budino di Cioccolato ($14) with dark chocolate crema, black olives, olive oil, and apricot sorbetto. A rich chocolate dessert balanced with fruity, savory garnishes. A very interesting take on a classic dessert.
And to finish the night, a plate of mignardises with out bill. Mint macarons, fruit gelees, and chocolate bon bons which I remember being spicy! Watch out for the red swipe! It'll surprise you.
Another really wonderful meal had at a Michael White restaurant. Terrific food, lovely service, and beautiful decor.

Marea
240 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-5100
marea-nyc.com

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