10 Courses at Chef Michael White’s Marea, NYC

On the news that Marea was just awarded 2 Michelin stars, I provide this timely post!

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As I occasionally do, I ducked away from the peeps and relished in a lavish multi-course tasting menu (with wine pairings), all by my lonesome – it is my only hobby, after all. I have no problem doing this from time to time – facebook keeps me company as I people watch, and I can indulge with ravenous glee – with only strangers the wiser. I've been looking forward to dinner at Marea, Michael White's Italian influenced seafood restaurant on Central Park South – and two dishes in particular. I chose to enjoy the grander of the tasting menus that are available upon request.

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But first, a cocktail at the handsome and impressively stocked Egyptian onyx bar.

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^ The Milano Torino: Campari, Punt e Mes, Orange, Franciacorta.

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I sat at Table 1, with a full view of the goings on. And now the first of the dishes I covet:

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^ Ricci: sea urchin, lardo, sea salt. Stunning. This sets the stage for the meal to come. Salt, fat, uni… it's a revelation. Having an intimate relationship with sea urchin roe in its many Japanese preparations, I find this dish fascinating, challenging, and remarkable. It continues to evoke meaningful discussion with the chefs that I count among my friends.

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^ Ostriche: east and west coast oysters served with morellino mignonette & cucumber-lemon vinegar; and Crudo al Taglio.

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^ Astice: nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil seeds. Outstanding; ^ and the Calamari: lobster and shrimp filled squid, slow cooked tomato, basil oil. 

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^ Risotti Mare: shrimp, lobster, scallops, rouget; ^ and the Orecchiette: spot prawns, chilies, rosemary.

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And the other dish – my raison d'être. ^ The Fusilli: red wine braised octopus, bone marrow. The dish is White's play on a Surf & Turf, if you will. It's alchemy. The gelatin from the octopus binds with the liquified marrow, allowing the sauce to emulsify. Brilliant. Decadent. Perfect.

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My server was excellent. When there was a slight mis-pour on the wine pairing for my requested seafood "main" course, I was asked if I'd prefer to keep the red on the table – enjoy my fish course with the appropriate pairing, and accept the meat course on the house… no need to waste that gorgeous Brunello.

Above ^ Dentice: seared atlantic snapper, blood sausage, whole roasted sunchoke, apple, chiodini mushrooms, sunchoke puree. Are you kidding? …killer. ^ and the Bistecca: grilled Creekstone Farms 50 day dry aged sirloin, bone marrow panzanella, braised romaine.

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^ Gianduja: cocoa nib crema, hazelnut chocolate, fior di latte gelato; and dessert truffles.

A wonderful meal, excellent pairings – and equitably priced. Marea did not disappoint. I'll return for a full serving of the Fusilli, and that seductive Ricci to start.

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