Under: Celebrity Sightings,Desserts,Dinner,Italian,Lunch,Michelin 2010 Guide,Midtown West,My Life,Prix-fixe,seafood,Things to do in NYC
Last Monday night, I went to Marea to knock another one-star off my Michelin list. Marea is a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for quite some time, especially after reading so many rave reviews about their fusilli pasta with braised octopus. After reviewing the menu for quite some time, my dining companion and I decided to be adventurous and do the tasting menu. We did one tasting menu and ordered more items a la carte. The waiter gave us some great suggestions (although his suggestion for the risotto ended up not being so great). We started off with an amuse bouche of salmon with fresh basil:
The fresh basil flavor lingered in my mouth long after I finished the small bite of delicious salmon. An interesting and fresh flavor.
After the amuse bouche, we ordered the Ricci: sea urchin, lardo, and sea salt:
Everyone raves about the ricci; how can you go wrong with sea urchin and lard on a crispy piece of sea salt crostini? I didn’t like the lard that was lightly melted over the sea urchin; my friend Eunice said it changes the texture of the sea urchin, but I think it distracts from the full flavor of the sea urchin.
After our ricci, we had a crudo tasting:
Left to right: Mackerel with pomegranate seeds, Long Island fluke with lemon thyme and olive oil, and octopus with lemon and olive oil.
The octopus was very light in flavor but the lemon and olive oil really brought it to life. The mackerel was also delicious, especially with bursts of pomegranate seeds with every bite.
My next dish, from the tasting menu, was the astice (nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil):
The waiter explained that the burrata cheese is flown in from Italy every day and made in very small quantities; the cheese was buttery, creamy, and an amazing complement to the perfectly poached lobster and fresh basil.
After we finished the ricci, crudo, and astice, we were both getting kind of full, but then came our house made pasta and risotto. We ordered the risitto with our tasting menu because wanted a full order of the fusilli (which ended up being a very good decision because neither of us enjoyed the seafood risotto). The risotto:
The squid ink made the risotto too gooey and masked the flavors of the seafood it was paired with. I’ve had one other bad experience with squid ink in Barcelona and think I’m just not a fan of it in general. The risotto was cooked perfectly, but the taste of the squid ink ruined the dish for me.
The fusilli, on the other hand, was my favorite dish of the evening:
The fusilli is hand made in the restaurant, comes with red wine braised octopus, and bone marrow. The tomato adds the right amount of acidity to complement the light bone marrow and the octopus was flavorful but didn’t overpower the sauce. I would have no complaints if I had to eat Marea’s fusilli every day for the rest of my life.
After the pastas, we were really full but still had the fish – one pound of dover sole with a citrus lemon sauce:
The dover sole costs about $57 a pound and the fish we ordered was a little over a pound before removing the bones. The fish was tender and meaty and the citrus lemon sauce was the perfect pairing for the white fish.
The dover sole also came with a side of roasted beets with ricotta salata:
Throughout our entire meal, this man also came by with lots of different breads, including whole grain, focaccia, and white bread:
The breads weren’t that great so I didn’t eat too many pieces (only two…look at that self control) and the focaccia was definitely too oily (there was oil all over my fingers and my plate!)
Since we ordered the tasting menu, we still had one dessert to go (luckily, we shared one dessert). We ordered the Gianduja (cocoa nib crema, hazelnut chocolate, fior di latte gelato):
The hazelnut chocolate was actually very light and the different textures from the cocoa nib, gelato, hazelnut, and hazelnut cream was a perfect way to end the meal. After our first dessert came out, a waiter delivered some chocolates:
Dark chocolate filled with caramel, white chocolate with lavender, milk chocolate with malt (and malt balls), and dark chocolate with raspberry. The milk chocolate with malt was very delicious (but a tad sweet) and THAT was the end of a very long but VERY delicious meal.
Marea is very deserving of their one Michelin star; their food is exceptional and very creative. However, the service was not the best (it took our waiter at least 30 minutes to come over to get our order, he didn’t seem very knowledgeable about the menu, and I could not get a water refill to save my life). The next time I dine at Marea, it might be for lunch; two dishes for $34 (and one of the dishes is the fusilli pasta!)