Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Marea, NYC: Uni and Crab Pasta will forever be ingrained in my mind


I ended my trip to New York with Sunday brunch at Two Michelin Star Italian restaurant Marea. I actually didn't know much about Marea (gasp) but it came highly recommended among friends and bloggers. Their seafood and pastas are not to be missed, so I've been told.

We were one of the first guests to arrive but the restaurant filled up quickly. I liked the upscale yet modern decor with leather chairs and a lovely view of Columbus Circle.

I don't ever take photos of bathrooms, but I loved their sinks.

Their brunch menu includes 2 courses for $42. First course includes a choice from their crudo or antipasti section, and second course allows a selection from their pastas and entrees. It was a pretty easy decision for me as I knew exactly what I was going to get and had been thinking about it for days - their sea urchin and crab spaghetti.

Bread selection was a seven-grain and olive foccacia.

Assaggio Di Tre ~ tasting of three crudo (additional $9)
This is the way to go if you can't decide between their 9 crudos. I chose the sepia, octopus and razor clams. The sepia (cuttlefish) was served with soffrito and bottarga. I really enjoyed the sharpness of the bottarga. The razor clams were nicely seasoned and served with fennel and peperoncino. It was supple with an oceanic flavor. I loved the texture of the octopus which was dressed with chili oil, lemon and parsley. The flavors of the crudo were really clean and fresh.

Moleche ~ crispy soft shell crab, charred radicchio, orange, pancetta vinaigrette
The soft shell crab was uniquely breaded with polenta which resulted in a grainy texture. It was nicely seasoned. The slightly bitter radicchio was dressed with fresh citrus dressing.

Fusilli ~ durum wheat pasta, red wine braised octopus, bone marrow
This is apparently one of their most popular dishes. The wheat pasta was toothsome and the crevices really held on to the sauce. The large octopus tentacles were cut to the same length as the pasta so they almost blended into the sauce. The pasta was cooked in a rich tomato sauce that was full of flavor. Huge chunks of fatty bone marrow were mixed in the sauce and really added richness to the dish.

Spaghetti ~ fresh cut Semonlina pasta, crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin, basil
This dish was absolutely glorious. The fresh pasta was cooked al dente and mixed in completely with the creamy bright orange uni sauce. I can never get enough of pasta with uni as it has the right balance of sweetness and oceanic flavor. The fresh crab was topped on the pasta for an additional seafood touch. Crumbled breadcrumbs were added for texture and saltiness. Such a standout dish that I hope to be able to make at home.

Ippoglosso ~ herb crusted east coast halibut, broccoli rabe, sopprasetta, royal trumpet mushroom, cipollini
The halibut was perfectly cooked with a crusty coating, and was quite a generous portion. The mushroom had an intense earthly flavor and the soprasetta was sweet with a nice spice. Although the halibut dish was tasty, I think the pasta dishes resonated more with my party.

Petit fours of Pistachio Madeline, espresso and gooey salted caramel were presented. Who needs to order dessert when you can get this for free?

Brunch at Marea was exquisite. I was really impressed with the freshness of the crudo. The pasta dishes were definitely standout, perfectly cooked with hearty and comforting flavors, yet cooked with such finesse. They were also surprisingly served in rather filling portions. My only critique was that our waiter was a bit snobby and rather curt. Understandably, this is an upscale restaurant, but it was also during Sunday brunch, not a weekend dinner reservation. Otherwise, an excellent last meal to round up my New York trip.

Hits: crudo, uni pasta, fusilli
Misses: waiter a bit snobby
Rating:***1/2

Marea
240 Central Park South,
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-5100
www.marea-nyc.com

3 comments:

Darin said...

It's been a while since I last visited NYC, but this place is close to the top of my list when I do.

Sucks about the snobby server.

effingdericious said...

seriously love this place to bits-- i even tried recreating the octopus marrow fusili pasta at home :)

Humberto said...

This is gorgeous!