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How do you rate a restaurant named 'MAREA'??!!

Charles Yu | Apr 30, 201207:07 PM

New York Trip: Meal #2 - MAREA

Whilst our luncheon experience at Casa Mono was one of tranquil relaxation, our dining experience at Marea, a few hours later, was exactly the opposite!

Anticipating we will still be digesting the food from our late, late lunch, our reservation was made for 9.00pm. The place was packed when we arrive. With no room near the bar or the reception area, patrons were forced to spill out onto the street.

We were seated after a 20 minutes wait. The closely packed table, relatively low ceiling and a full house combined to create a noisy and bustling dining room.

For our order, in addition to following some of Anthony Bourdain's 'must try' recommendations mentioned in his program 'Food Porn', the rest, we kept to as many 'light' dishes as possible.
Our meal consisted of:

- Amuse Bouche:
Beet Paint with Tasmanian Sea Trout and crab eggs

- Antipasti and Primi:
RICCI sea urchin, lardo, sea salt
LANCIA hawaiian striped marlin, sturgeon caviar, mussel vinaigrette
SEPPIA cuttlefish tagliatelle, soffrito crudo, bottarga di muggine
ZUPPA seasonal vegetables, shrimp polpettine, sorrento lemon, pastina

- Pasta:
SPAGHETTI crab, santa barbara sea urchin, basil
FUSILLI red wine braised octopus, bone marrow

- Secondi
BRODETTO DI PESCE adriatic seafood soup, clams, langoustine, scallop, prawns, bass

After that, we have no room for dessert and settled for the petite four instead.

The decadent appetizers and unctuous pasta dishes were all nicely prepared and presented. The use of exotic ingredients such as caviar, crab meat, lardo, bone marrow, sea urchins..etc helped propel the dishes over the top. Fish and seafood used were pristine fresh. Overall taste sensation was mostly positive.

However, along with the pluses came a few minuses. The most obvious was the Zuppa which was too heavily seasoned with pungent herbs and spices. IMO, it tasted more like a Chinese herbal medicine concoction than a vegetable soup! On the other hand, the seafood broth for the Brodetto di Pesce was watery and unassumingly weak tasting. This was such a shame since all the seafood ingredients in the soup were all perfectly cooked.

Although we were too full for dessert, however, we did get to try a 'mini lemon meringue tart' from the petite four collection. It was mouth-watering gooood!

Overall, we did have a great time. Unfortunately, some great tasting dishes were offset and marred by mishaps of some other dishes. To keep their Michelin 2* status, in addition to retaining high standard of their pastas and crudos, IMHO, they need to beef up their effort in making better tasting hot dishes and mains.

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