Oh my lucky stars!
I finally dined at the two-starred Michelin/Relais & Chateaux elite group member, best Italian/seafood centric restaurant and crown jewel of the Altamarea Group empire.
For an early birthday celebration, my boyfriend surprised me on August 15th with dinner at Marea! It's the one Michael White restaurant I've been wanting to go to for a longest time. Tears of joy. Ohhh, tears of joy!
We both opted for the $99 four course prix-fixe dinner which consisted of a choice of crudo, oysters or antipasto, pasta, meat or fish, and dessert. There was a fantastic Italian white wine that we enjoyed as well, but I forgot which of my top three we selected - but I can tell you that it was an excellent complement to every dish.
On to the meal...
Amuse Bouche - Cubed, raw bluefin tuna
This was to prepare out palates for what's to come...seafood and all great things by Michael White & his talented team.
TRIO OF CRUDO
From the fine selection of crudo, I chose the maccarello - pacific horse mackerel, tomato, garbanzo, meyer lemon; cannolichi - marinated razor clams, baby fennel, peperoncino, and the branzino - local wild striped bass, sturgeon caviar, mussel vinaigrette. I was amazed when I first tried the crudo at Michael White's Costata in SoHo after hearing many great things about his crudo in general, and of course at Marea with its emphasis on coastal cuisine of Italy, I expected it to be out of this world. And, it was! The best way to describe it - you will really taste the freshness and refreshing flavors of the ocean. My favorite was the first one on the left - the pacific horse mackerel. The meyer lemon, tomato, and garbanzo made my taste buds dance. I loved it.
Fusilli with Red Wine Braised Octopus and Bone Marrow
This was by far the BEST pasta I've eaten in all of NYC (until my trip to Emilia-Romagna, Italy that is, but Michael White exquisitely created a fantastic dish here). The perfectly al dente fusilli pasta and rich flavor of bone marrow with tender and chewy octopus was an A+++ in my book. I could have had more if that was an option.
Grilled Cobia, Market Beans, Octopus Bacon, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Kale Pesto
I was told that cobia is similar in taste to Spanish mackerel, so if I liked that, then I'd be happy with this fish. Since I am always game to try something new, I chose it and couldn't get enough of it. Its white firm flesh took on the flavors of the kale pesto really well and tasted great with the market beans and heirloom tomatoes. No strong fishy flavor at all!
Bomboloni - Italian Doughnuts filled with Lemon Verbena + Caramelized White Chocolate, and Strawberry Jam to dip them in.
These warm delightful bites and the "Happy Birthday" chocolate greeting were an excellent finish to a memorable meal. I was stuffed and very, very happy. Four courses over two hours plus a bottle of wine really add up, and all that food hits you with food coma at the end, but it's worth it. My boyfriend succeeded in carefully planning this sneaky and awesome surprise -- it totally made my night. That's another A+++ in my book!
When you visit Marea, you'll find great a la carte offerings as well as a prix-fixe lunch option on weekdays, a prix fixe dinner option during evenings, and a prix fixe brunch menu on the weekends. See ALL photos from Marea on my Flickr here.
240 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019