marea: pasta by the sea

between december and april, j and i indulge ourselves a bit and get to some of the fancier, pricier restaurants in town all in the name of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and things like that — it helps make these bleak few months a little more fun.  we kicked off our high end tour in december with marea, which fortunately did not take that full 4 weeks to get a booking (sometimes the poor economy can make things easier if you’re not a superstar).    i’d been reading the marea raves from everyone, so was pretty amped up over our visit. fortunately, the pastas did not disappoint.  

although the room was a bit of a drag — more corporate den than romatic hideout with plenty of business going on, some dishes were really out of this world so i cannot complain too much.  i also liked that marea offered a prix fixe for $89 — four ample courses which was the most cost effective way to go considering the high end nature of the place. now of course when we added up our drinks and other goodies our bill was a little out there, but it was still a nice touch.

although the menu is vast — it took us a good while to figure out what we wanted — two marea dishes are worth obsessing over.  the first was that polipo — grilled, super tender octopus served with mild couscous, some pine nuts for contrast with the chewiness of the fish with an apricot mostarda.  the other highlight was my pasta which was absolutely amazing — the rigatoni seppia (or cuttlefish) with a shrimp ragu and pecorino. the waiter got me to step out of my comfort zone and i’m glad i did. this dish had a light sauce full of shrimp layered over impeccably prepared pasta.  others have gone crazy over marea’s fusilli served with bone marrow and octopus.   

my other dishes included a creamy parsnip soup  and a more exciting crudo with  jack mackerel, duck prosciutto and pomegranates that was tasty, cool and tart.    j. had the veal ravioli sweetbreads with mushrooms (stick with the fish is my thought), and he also tried the the dover sole with salsa verde sauce which was surprisingly not as interesting as the other dishes – maybe it was just outdone by the others.  dessert was good but not a star maybe because we were stuffed and it wasn’t as otherworldly.  given the price tag,  we probably won’t be back, unless of course i have an important business meeting in midtown where i don’t have to pay, or if i could get some of that pasta to go.  marea, 240 central park south between 7th and 8th avenues, manhattan, new york, 212.582.5100.

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