It’s been 4 years since we ate at Marea, a 2 star Michelin restaurant that specializes in seafood with an Italian influence. The food here is all very flavorful with out dots or smears – just plain good and fresh. It is a huge place, elegantly appointed but with closely set tables and some noise issues when it is full. At lunch it was packed. There is a lot of art on the walls and windows to the street on two sides of the large dining area. They also have a long bar area with a beautiful yellow glass wall running behind the bar. The wood on the walls is polished to a high sheen and you’re likely to spot some bold name people dining with you or in passage from one of the private dining rooms. (I spotted Michael Douglas as he exited). At lunch they offer a selection of primi and secondi courses with a fixed price of $63 for the two of your choice, however some selections will have a supplemental charge and a 5 course tasting menu for $99 with optional wine pairings offered. The tasting includes dessert and although the menu is already set they were willing to make some changes for us and we did not have to get the same things, so that is the deal to get. We ordered our own bottle of wine and had a cocktail and still beat the cost of buying the pairings, but just barely. Service was excellent, friendly and efficient. Put this place on your list if you can.
With a Negroni cocktail came the bread service which was a tray of sour dough, focaccia and multi grain bread. The focaccia was recommended by the server and it was herby, with bit of salt on the top and really good. The sourdough was nicely doughy with a crisp crust. All were cut but still fresh on the exposed sides. A bottle of olive oil was placed on the table for dipping.
The menu started with three selections of crudo – mackerel, tuna and branzino. The mackerel was accented with black olive and was better with a little of the table’s olive oil added to it. The tuna was adorned with arugula underneath and a crispy garnish on top. The branzino was my favorite but they were all very fresh and nice tasting.
For a second course I had the Astice which was Nova Scotia lobster with burrata, eggplant and basil. The sweet chewy lobster was delicious and paired well with the creamy burrata. Some basil seeds, which were green poppy balls, were in the mix and really fun to eat and gave texture to the smooth other parts. It was excellent.
My husband had the Granchio which was made with jumbo lump crabmeat, artichoke, capers and mint. Mayonnaise and slices of artichoke hearts were topped with crisp slices of artichoke and watercress. The totally fresh tasting crab was blended with a little mayonnaise that kept it well bound and it all went together to form a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.
The Fusilli was with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow. It was a totally savory sauce and the pasta was cooked perfectly. The wonderful sauce adhered nicely to the pasta twirls to make each bite full of flavor. The chewy, crispy bits of octopus were icing on the cake. This was really a ‘lick-the-bowl-clean’ kind of dish.
The Gnocchetti was with Ruby Red shrimp, chilies and rosemary oil. It had a stronger herb taste than that of shrimp. The small shrimp were equal in size to the little gnocchi, making for an interesting affect. The pasta were almost like cavatelli rather than gnocchi. The very good tomato sauce made this one a winner too.
The Spigola Striata was wild striped bass with white asparagus, morel mushrooms, mint and hazelnuts. Both white and green asparagus were mixed with the crispy topped piece of bass. The fish was moist and delicious with a rich lovely sauce. The hazelnuts added another dimension of texture and flavor. It was outstanding.
The Ippoglosso was halibut with spring peas, fiddlehead fern, ramps and calamari. This one had lots of fun tasty ingredients with another excellent piece of fish. A good sauce accented all the parts, especially the crisply seared fish. Thumbs up again.
Dessert was an Earl Grey panna cotta with a citrus granita. There were some balls that added a crisp texture to the fairly strong citrus flavor. The smooth, sweet custard of the panna cotta was lovely and I think I would have preferred less granita and more custard. Nevertheless it was a good combination of contrasting textures and flavors.
A final treat was a strawberry profiterole. It was buttery with a hint of strawberry flavor. The great pastry was filled with a lovely cream to rate a total yum.