Marea definitely needs some good Infatuation press... they haven’t gotten much love lately. Makes you wonder if people around these parts have even heard of it. I mean, it’s only been awarded Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. While we haven’t yet logged enough hours on the road to make that kind of statement, we can definitely say that Chef Michael White makes some of the best pasta in New York City. That would be a bold statement if everyone on earth wasn’t also saying it.
Marea is one of those restaurants, like Eleven Madison Park, that you walk into knowing damn well it’s going to be incredible. The food, especially the aforementioned pasta, is exquisite. A few of the dishes, including the lobster burrata, the fusilli with octopus and bone marrow, and the steak are among the best things we’ve eaten all year. Service is top notch as well - the staff know the menu inside and out, and they take excellent care of you. But for all that talk about pasta, it’s good to know this: Marea is a seafood restaurant first, Italian restaurant second. To properly indulge, you’ve gotta be willing to strap on the scuba gear and eat whatever swims your way.
There are two ways to approach a Marea experience, and both are the tasting menu... it just depends on what time of day you want to eat like a baller. For lunch, the two-course $42 tasting menu is a steal. That’s a better deal than what you'll find at most boring-ass Midtown business lunch destinations. Dinner is almost affordable at $89 a person for a four-course tasting menu, especially for a meal of this caliber. Ordering a la carte is always an option as well, but with such a deep menu, you’re going to be better served trying as many things as possible.
If ordering a la carte, go heavy on the generous antipasti and pastas and easy on the overpriced crudo dishes. This crudo plate of raw bigeye tuna with oyster crema and crispy artichokes is tasty and most definitely worthy of consideration, even if the portion is small.
A Long Island fluke crudo in lemon thyme and olive oil. A little boring somehow... we’d skip this next time.
If you dig raw lobster this is for you - bite sized pieces of Nova Scotia lobster, sun dried tomatoes, olives, and plum. If you like your lobster cooked, go with the Astice off the antipasti menu.
This dish is incredible. I don’t even like cheese, but I loved this. Nova Scotia lobster, fresh burrata, eggplant, and basil. A must order.
This grilled octopus would be the best thing on the menu if it weren’t for so many other best things on the menu... like the pastas and the steak (see below). Served with smoked potatoes and pickled red onion, this creation is a perfectly crafted balance of beautiful flavors and presentation.
As previously alluded to, the pastas at Marea, just like at White’s other excellent restaurants, are the stars. This one is a penne-like pasta with manila clams, calamari, and hot chilies. Spicy and delicious.
If you’re forced to decide on one pasta, this should be it. This sh*t is straight up dreamy. Fusilli with red wine-braised octopus and bone marrow. Ridiculous.
Another mind numbing pasta concoction of fresh cut semolina pasta, crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin, and basil. So good.
For the not-so-adventurous, feel free to roll with this grilled Hawaiian swordfish. It’s a little less exciting than the rest of the menu, but it’s a great piece of fish and will get the job done.
I’m not going to lie, the scallops were a bit disappointing. They were cooked perfectly and presented well, but there was something a little overbearing going on with the sauce. Not sure exactly what part of the pancetta, spring garlic, candied orange, or brown butter sugo that threw me off, but something was funky.
Holy cow. This steak right here is incredible, and is the best single bite of meat I’ve eaten all year. A grilled Creekstone Farms sirloin that’s been dry-aged for 50 days and comes to your table with a delicious, marbelized bone marrow panzanella glaze. It’s worth all $49, almost a buck for every day of dry aging.