I’m a little bit embarassed to say that Day 4 of my Seven Michelin Star Restaurants in Seven Days series brings us to a post that I should have written over a year ago. J took me to Marea for my birthday more than a year ago back in November 2011. However, since most of the things that I’ve ordered are still on the menu today, I would consider this post still relevant.
Marea, along with one of my other loves, Ai Fiori, is a part of the Altamarea Group lead by Chef Michael White and currently holds 2 Michelin Stars. Marea specializes in seafood so with Michael White’s italian twist to the menu, I was beyond excited to enjoy my tasting of seafood.
Marea is located near my old neighborhood at Columbus Circle, right across the street from Central Park South. My first impression was that the restaurant definitely catered to an older and more formal clientele, however the spacious and open dining room helped brighten up the place a little bit. Unlike Ai Fiori, which is ultimately a modern and posh hotel restaurant, the feeling I got from Marea is a lot more formal, so – men, don’t come without a jacket or a suit, and ladies, if you’re rocking nice jeans, you might be a tad underdressed.
Marea’s menu brings you an offering of various a la carte items, or if you choose, a 4-course prix fixe menu which allows you to choose one course from each part of their menu, from appetizers, pasta, meats/seafood, and dessert. For our meal, we chose to do the prix fixe so we can try everything!
Since Marea specializes in seafood, we had to order their tasting of Crudo and Lobster Burrata Appetizer. The crudo was fresh, my personal favorite was the Octopus with Chili Oil and Lemon as the lemon really helped give the soft buttery octopus a bite of acidity. The lobster and burrata combo is a surprisingly light appetizer. The lobster was sweet and the burrata helped add some creaminess that you never really knew lobster needed.
In addition to seafood, Marea makes some delicious house-made pastas. One of the most highly talked about dishes here is their Braised Octopus and Bone Marrow Fusilli. The octopus is perfectly cooked and spirals in the fusilli perfectly picks up the rich bone marrow sauce that it sits in. The bread crumbs on top adds a perfect crunch. We throughly enjoyed this dish and it was definitely a standout. In addition to the fusilli, we ordered the seafood risotto, which was good, but didn’t overwhelm.
Carne & Pesce
Finally comes time for the dessert, how often does dessert become the most memorable part of the meal? For me, a self proclaimed “not a dessert person”, this carrot cake dessert made my entire meal and made my birthday. The carrot sponge cake was warm and baked to perfection, coupled with the carrot ginger sorbet, it added flavors I didn’t know could exist in dessert. Then of course, came in the candied pecans which helped give it that extra crunch and sweetness that the dessert really needed. To me this was perfect, and to this day, if you ask me what I remember most about my meal at Marea, it would be this dessert.
J is a doughnut fan, so naturally, he ordered the Bomboloni, the doughnut dessert with the white espresso gelato. It was another amazing dessert.
All in all, I really enjoyed my meal at Marea. If you love seafood and italian food, this place is for you. However, expect to pay a decent amount when you head on over here. While the 4 course prix fixe is under $100, it’s still a sting on the wallet. I would definitely want to come back to celebrate a special occasion, but it won’t be a restaurant I’d want to visit regularly just based on how formal the experience felt.
For a slightly more casual Michael White restaurant, go visit Ai Fiori. Also making a personal note to myself to go dine at Osteria Morini – Michael White’s most causal pasta-focused concept.
Update: Since this last visit, I’ve been back to Marea twice, check out my May & Nov 2013 update here (complete with pictures with their entire dessert menu, yum!).