Location: 240 Central Park S, New York, NY 10019. (212) 582-5100
Date: July 2, 2017
Rating: Great “fancy” Italian
Marea is the modern style of fancy Italian, which some Italian-American lovers dismiss, but is actually fairly representative of high end (Michelin) restaurants in Italy. I know, I’ve eaten at plenty of them. And in fact, Marea has 2 stars itself.
2013 Azienda Agricola Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva Villa Bucci. 91 points. I visited this winery 2 years ago. The nose was alive with saline-minerality and zesty citrus tones. On the palate, I found soft, lifted textures with tart citrus, spice and mineral tones. It finished fresh and lively.
And my Assaggio di tre. From left to right: Scampi Pacific Langoustine, murray river pink salt. Passera. Long island fluke, stone fruit, almond, chive blossom. Dentice. Pacific snapper, lime coriander, crispy skin.
These were nice. I’ve decided that these “western sauces” are MUCH better on crudo (aka sashimi) than on sushi (like Sushi Gari). It doesn’t play well with the rice.
1999 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva. VM 90-93. Good ruby-red. Red plum, sweet spices, roast coffee, flowers and a loamy nuance on the open-knit nose. Then juicy and stylish in the mouth, combining peppery and soft red fruit qualities with a subtle touch of oaky sweetness. Not a hugely concentrated wine and surprisingly forward, finishing with suave, spreading tannins and an almost sweet quality. There’s nothing wrong with this balanced wine, although I would have expected a little more complexity and depth; I wonder if the production of the 130-year anniversary bottling in the same vintage caused this Riserva to be less concentrated and deep than it might otherwise have been. Readers should take note that 1999 in Taurasi was characterized by a cool growing season, and thus was nothing like the outstanding ’99 vintage in Montalcino or Barolo. Still, I always felt that 1999 in Campania was unjustly overlooked by wine critics at the time, and I think that the wines are starting to show well now.
Spaghetti neri. Seppia, ink, mussels, fresh chili, saffron.
Rosotto funghi. Wild mushrooms, parmigiano. Perfect creamy texture.
With a gooey center! This dessert was an 11 by my standards. A perfect expression of coconut and bright tropical fruits. I will make a coconut gelato with almonds and passionfruit coulis to riff off of it.
My son likes dressing up now.
Overall, Marea was very good. Execution was top notch across the board. Pastas were amazing. Interesting that it’s Adriatic in style, most closely resembling these places I’ve eaten at on Italy’s Adriatic coast: Madonnia del Pescatore and La Frasca. The format is a bit different more American at Marea, with fewer larger courses. I, of course (pun intended), prefer the more smaller dish format. Marea plays it fairly safe too, avoiding some of the weirder (to American taste) choices you might get in Italy. But it is quite Italian.
Service was top notch. Our server was simultaneously very New York, punky, not explicitly Italian, and excellent. Very nice, knowledgable, responsive, accommodating, etc.
The wine list was good and only slightly high. Clientele was more staid and there were quite a number of wealthy Chinese.