There are some restaurants that just scream Old New York, and you can tell almost upon entry that your dining experience is going to be incredible from start to finish. It’s an old school, high end establishment where the servers are crisply outfitted and service is impeccably buttoned up. Full disclosure, you do end up spending quite a bit of money, but mostly because it is actually more economical to opt for the four course tasting menu at $100 per person rather than order a la carte. Particularly for a special occasion, I would much rather drop some serious dough here than at a newer, “hip” restaurant that may not be around in a year or two. I’ve eaten at Marea a few times over the last few years, and not only is the food consistently mind blowing, every single detail of a meal here is carefully crafted and fastidiously executed.
Apologies in advance for the hastily taken photos – was too hungry to spend molto minuti!
There is an entire menu dedicated to crudos-as-appetizers that you could easily order and would most likely enjoy. Since this isn’t a sushi restaurant, my opinion is that your money would be better spent on the mastery exhibited in the true appetizers.
Burrata. Lobster. Eggplant. If these things sound appetizing to you, you have hit the culinary jackpot. It’s flavorful but well balanced, so that not one ingredient upstages another, and yet hits all of the notes that your nose and mouth utilize to perceive flavor. You will melt.
When grilled octopus is done correctly, it’s an absolute dream. This is one of those times. Smoked potatoes and chilis take it to the next level.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – shrimp heads are not my bag. In this case, like everything else, they are MUCH more enjoyable when they are deep fried. If you like them, there’s nowhere better to enjoy them (except for maybe La Vara).
Bone Marrow Fusilli
This is Marea’s signature dish, and one that put Chef Michael White on the map in New York all those years ago, and it never, ever ceases to amaze and delight. The bone marrow adds a bit of crunchiness and breaks up the decadence of the red wine braised octopus. When you Google Marea, this is the image that pops up next to the map.
Baby gnocchi? Check. Baby shrimp? Check. Chilis? Check. If these three ingredients check all your boxes, this is your jam.
Pipette is a small pasta somewhere in between a rigatoni and a shell, and easily absorbs the delish things it is served with. Never to be outdone, Marea mixes it up by offering these little wheat nuggets in a black cape (also known as squid ink) and serves it with all the crustaceans: scrimps and lobstah, and throwing in some earthy overtones (fennel, caraway) for good measure. Delicioso! (But fair warning, none of the pastas achieve quite the level of grandiosity as the fusilli.)
The Pipette and the strezzopretti are both featured in this photo, along with my boyfriend, who probably said “BABE, turn the damn flash off.” Whatever.
Little twists of pasta are delicately woven around bits of lump crab and sea urchin fall apart in your mouth in one huge, briny bite. If you can’t resist uni, definitely give this a whirl. If you’re kind of “meh” about it, opt for one of the aforementioned pastas.
Though the accoutrements change seasonally (you can currently eat it with kohlrabi, spring onions, nettles, and olives) this perfect way this fish is cooked has forced me to abandon all hope of cooking it at home. I’ve similarly abandoned all attempts to order anything else for my main course at Marea. (Sorry boyfriend)
A close second to the halibut, these scallops are cooked to tender, shimmering perfection (are you sensing a theme here?) and served with seasonal add-ons as well.
I will get this every. Damn. Time. The brown butter ice cream jazzes up an already satisfying dish. Plus there’s coffee!
Never a bad idea. Just do it.