Marea – Cucina del Mare (New York)

I’ll have to admit, it was a last-minute decision to dine here; or rather, I never had intentions of coming to Marea. But luckily I did; For otherwise, I would have missed out on one of the best places to have come out from my trip to the Big Apple. On hindsight, I should have conducted my due diligence on the restaurants that I wanted to visit more stringently!

So why did I choose to patronize Marea, you may ask? My memory of it is somewhat vague, but it’s either I somehow spied upon the name of the restaurant when we were heading towards Bouchon Bakery (the New York outpost) or on one of the strolls through Central Park.

Anyway, let’s just say, if there’s one restaurant in New York that I would love to return to, Marea, is definitely it. It is THAT good!

Chef Michael White combines modern Italian cuisine with seafood and his Michael White touches to them. I couldn’t help but to compare my experience at Le Bernardin to Marea. Perhaps it’s my choices of dishes, but they were somewhat reminiscent of the meal that I had at LB just a few days ago; simple dishes made with the freshest seafood and classic cooking techniques.

Before you start noticing that I had missed out on, and very much regrettably so. trying out one of their home made pastas, I made a promise that if ever I were to return to New York, that would be my excuse! We all need excuses, sometimes.

I really love the wide variety of breads that they serve in New York.

The sour dough bread here is, trust me, to-die-for. The aroma of freshly baked bread, in particular sour dough ones, is really beyond any description!

Oh have I ever mentioned before that I don’t really adore my breads? But my recent trip to New York changed that one notion in my mind for good – Good breads do exist and it’s definitely not a waste of precious calories.

ASTICE
novascotia lobster , burrata cheese, egg plant al funghetto , basil

Starting off lunch was an excellent recommendation from the beautiful waitress. Apparently, one of the best sellers in the appetizers category is the Astice. And rightly so! The seemingly simple combination of fresh lobster meat with burrata cheese and really sweet tomatoes, was not at all simple in taste! Yes, it was not a burst of flavours, but it was clean to the palate. I know I’ve said this so often that I should refrain from using it further, there’s beauty in simplicity!

It was the perfect dish to start the lunch. At the back of my mind, I wished that it was served in a slightly larger portion, yet the lucid me reminded myself that perhaps, that’s exactly how an appetizer should be! Large enough to stop your stomach from growling, yet small enough to have you yearning for what’s to come.

The presentation of the dish was really commendable to. The photo does no justice to the actual plating, but the colours of the ingredients really entices one to delve right in.

SAN PIETRO
new zealand john dory, roasted sunchoke, pickled chiodini, apple, housemade sanguina ccio

I’ve had quite a bit of red meat the days prior to this so I thought, since I’m already on the seafood theme, why not stay the course?

Again, I asked the waitress for her recommendation – immediately she said, “Have the John Dory. It’s amazing.” And so, the john dory a.k.a Saint Pierre it is. On a sidenote, do you hate it when waiters try to add that bit of humour and reply that everything on our menu is good without giving specific recommendations? I’ll come clean and say yes, I do get a little irritated.

The fish was cooked beautifully; the flesh remained tender despite being a somewhat meaty fish. By the way, pictures are somewhat deceiving – the portion is a lot bigger than what it looks above.

It was my first time trying out chiodini mushrooms and I must say, just like how I fell in love with porcini mushrooms on the first bite, I fell hopelessly in love with them too. Neither have I seen them at the local speciality stores back in Singapore nor served at restaurants in Singapore. Perhaps in time to come, the likes of Chanterelle and chiodini mushrooms can be found in Singapore. Anyway, they come across as a milder version of porcini mushrooms yet with a distinct sweetness to them.

The home made sausage was really needed here, for it lent that bit of salt to the dish as a whole. For those who don’t know what sanguina ccio is, here’s a quick description:

Sanguinaccio derives its name from the Italian word for blood: sangue. It is a sausage made using the blood of pig or, less commonly, cow. In my mind this is the epitomy of the waste not culture of old where no part of the pig was wasted.

Retrieved from http://curedmeats.blogspot.com/2007/07/sanguinaccio.html. Last accessed 30th march 2011.

AFFOGATO
zabaglione gelato, espresso and amaro

Dessert was a much simpler affair. A shot of strong espresso with really good gelato made for an indulgent end to the meal. I could have (and perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, should have) gone with something more complex but I wanted to leave Marea with happy memories of the food here. Desserts can sometimes be the low point of a meal and I was not going to let that happen. Excuse or Reason? I’ll leave it up to you.

I walked away poorer but feeling satisfied, contented. Marea definitely lives up to being a 2 Michelin starred restaurant.

Prices

2 course business lunch – US$42.00
Affogato – US$13.00

Dress Code: Business Casual minimum; Jackets not required but preferred, Tie optional.

Marea
240 Central Park South New York
Telephone: (212) 582-5100

2 Michelin Stars


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17 Comments

  1. ice

    I’ve eaten chanterelles, both golden and black (black trumpet), and chiodini mushrooms before in restaurants here in SG. Saint Pierre, Jaan & St. Julien to name a few.

  2. finally another delicious post!

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