It was a big effort but I finally made my way uptown to try Marea. All four of us, casually dressed, decided we might be a tad out of our element the second we saw each other. The restaurant is beautiful, elegant and very adult. Men were wearing jackets and a few ties, Fred was wearing a sweater. Men were wearing nice slacks, Fred was wearing jeans. It is nice to see how the other half dines.
We had all read the same reviews on Marea. The first few courses are fantastic but the main courses are not as wow. So, in keeping with our tradition when we dine with our friends, we split everything. It makes for great conversation.
As we started looking through the menu, I took out a pen and marked up the menu and pulled it out of its folder. Didn't realize it was glued in but figured they had an ample supply. Poor manners on my part but watching all the waiters gape at me might have been worth it. It did help us when the courses came.
The first courses came from the Crudo al Taglio section of the menu. Sliced raw fish and shellfish. Sushi, Italian style. Each plate comes out on small square different colored resin plates. We each were served a plate, we'd take a bite or two and then pass to our right.
Lancia is sliced Hawaiian blue marlin with a dollop of sturgeon caviar over the top with a mussel vinaigrette drizzled across the plate. Everybody voted this as number one. The combination of the flavors and textures just hit a seriously high note. Amazing. My apologies for some poor picture quality.
Seppia was also a winner. Cuttlefish cut into the shape of tagliatelle (a thin spaghetti) mixed with a soffrito and bottarga de muggine. The mound of fish was laid over thinly sliced cucumbers. Nice touch.
Polipo is simple but I really enjoyed it. Sliced pieces of octopus with chili oil, lemon and parsley over the top. I love the texture of octopus and the chili oil gave it a real spicy bite. Yum.
This course was fantastic. I not only loved the creativity of each dish but how each taste stood out even when there were 3 – 4 different flavors. Every flavor complimented each other and although you were tasting a bunch of flavors at once, each taste individually stood out.
Our next course was from the Antipasti section of the menu. This consists of seasonal appetizers. This was my least favorite course. Although everything was exquisitely prepared, the flavors of the crudo were more powerful.
Astice is small pieces of poached lobster sitting over a creamy burrata and small pieces of eggplant and a sprig of basil. The strange mixture totally worked. The burrata was phenomenal. Creamy and just delicious.
Coppa di Testa is beautiful in presentation. Whole anchovies wrapped around a spiced braised pork with tiny caramelized onions on the side. Genius. My only criticism of the dish is that the pork didn't have that much kick, it had no depth.
Our last round was the pastas which have been praised by everyone who has eaten at Marea. This is the part of the meal that we were all looking forward to.
Fusilli is the pasta that everyone raves about. Believe the hype. Fusilli mixed with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow. Honestly, it renders me speechless. Deep in color, rich in flavor, different than any other sauce I have ever had over perfectly made pasta. Awesome.
Last we did go for dessert, of course. A creamy chocolate dessert like a torte with whole hazelnuts and a milk gelato on the side. I think we got one more thing but honestly can't remember. At this point, many glasses of wine, full bellies and still dreaming about the pastas, I was done.
Worth the journey. There happens to be a private room downstairs. Could be a great place for an intimate party. Just a FYI. I'm still dreaming about the fusilli, the ferratini and the lancia. Seriously sublime.