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May 18, 2009 01:01 PM


Going this week. Has anyone been yet? Thoughts?

240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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  1. My husband and I ate there on Monday night, and had a wonderful time. It is a beautiful, elegant room, and the food was wonderful, excellent quality and simply prepared - I think it would be hard to go wrong. I started with the crudo tasting - a choice of three was $21.00 and sounds expensive until you take the first bite. My main course was the cuttle fish - something I would never prepare myself and so fresh that I felt like I was in a seaside Italian village. All fish comes with a choice of sauce, from a simple butter and parsley to a slightly more complex Livornese, which was my choice. We also had some broccoli rabe and fresh asparagus. My dessert was zucchini based, and also very good, as were the biscotti and chocolates. This could be a new favorite place for us.
    I should mention two things though: The restaurant hasn't officially opened yet, and so it is in "preview" which means that your bill is less 20%. I was so happy about that - aside from making this terrific place affordable ( for now ) - I have always believed that restaurants should all do this. Then I wouldn't mind hearing the "We haven't really opened yet and have to get the kinks out" thing when problems occur.
    The other thing is that because they are in preview, a number of items are not yet available. But, plenty are, and from my experience, you'll have a great time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: susany

      Thank you so much. All that means is that I will have to go back to taste the other dishes when they have them available after the preview week. I will let you know how it was after I go tomorrow night. The crudo sounds great that you had....can't wait.

      1. re: susany

        This may be a dumb question, but because it was the preview week and the prices were 20% lower, could the portions have purposely been smaller to be more in line with the price? I know that this would defeat the purpose of getting the "full" experience of the restaurant, but its just a thought.

      2. OK..went last night and was a touch dissapointed. 7PM reservation and the place was mostly empty until about 8PM. It took about 10 min. for our waiter to come over at all and to get water. He kept dissapearing throughout the evening for extended periods of time which was not good. Appetizers we had the grilled octopus which was a very small portion but had nice flavor and the sea urchin in the 'small bites' section which was good. Next we tasted 3 crudo which were the marlin, the tuna and the razor clams....all were very flavorful and good. Main courses were the grilled black bass and a pasta with bone marrow and octopus. Both were made well, but also small portions. We tried a few different wines and with the 20% off in preview week, our bill was just under $200. For this money, I would rather have eaten at Le Bernardin but Marea is very pretty.

        2 Replies
        1. re: taboo

          Thanks for the report, taboo. I presume when you say "for this money," you are referring to prices without the discount? Because there's no way two people can eat and have wine at Le Bernardin for $200.

          1. re: RGR

            Yes RGR...I meant before the discount since that only runs through preview week. I have been to Le Bernardin about 5 times and the service, food and experience are seamless. Marea might be better soon, but the service here was subpar and glad I was with a girl friend and not my boyfriend who would have left very hungry.

        2. Five of us went for dinner to Marea this week. The verdict: we aren't returning too soon, if it is on our dime. Food was very good, portions tiny, service confused, dishes expensive.

          Marea is in the space San Domenico occupied for many years. The spot has been completely redone. The only recognizable thing is the space itself, the four walls and its location. Much money has been spent completely redoing the room. Lots of polished wood, on the walls and the floor. A sleek long bar when you enter, a few beautiful photos on the walls. The tables are a bit close together; chairs are very comfortable. Lighting is subdued, mostly. It is a sharp venue.

          As you would expect this early, service is confused. Lots of staff, many seemingly not sure of what to do. Our waiter was relatively knowledgeable about the menu, but had an off putting manner, but that may have been simply because he was frazzled The front of the house seems on the ball, often patrolling the restaurant, though they seem more to be patrolling and looking, rather than remedying. For example, while the bread person walked around multiple times, it took various requests to the waiter, and gesticulations to him and others, finally to get some bread. Then, after serving half the table, the bread man disappeared mid-service, to return a few minutes later to let the rest of us pick our bread (the bread tray hadn't gone empty, he had simply fled). Frankly, in an Italian spot like this, placing bread on the table, rather than serving it for selection, seems a better fit.

          The menu is on line and most all selections were available. The menu is interesting, overwhelmingly seafood. There are a few small starter plates, many crudos, some appetizers, pastas and mains. We ordered a couple of starters: some fried eggplant balls and some other fritters. They were small, and there were few of them. That set the tone for the rest of the meal. Yet, consistent with the rest of the meal, they were very good.

          When it came time to order most at the table ordered either a crudo and then a pasta or main dish, or an appetizer and a pasta, or main dish. As we did so, our waiter informed us twice that, "that isn't a lot of food you are ordering. Maybe you want something in addition?" Assuming that a starter and a main should be enough, with the little fried things yet to arrive, we said we would be fine.

          We tried various appetizers and crudos. All were very good. The tuna crudo was on the small side. How small? Well, you know the size of a pice of tuna you get at a good sushi restaurant? It was that size. Sliced into a couple of smaller pieces, placed on a plate. It is advertised as being served with a fried artichoke, or similar, I believe. And, so it came -- one small artichoke leaf on top of the tuna. The crab salad was very good, fresh. If we had not known we had ordered it as a starter, we all would have concluded it was a very large amuse bouche. The soft shell crab starter was excellent, and those who chose it were lucky. An entire crab arrived, fried perfectly, sitting in a tasty sauce with tiny bits of salami. At that point we understood what the waiter had meant, "that isn't a lot of food you ordered" and thus we discussed whether the chef had thought about serving only half a soft shell crab but, upon realizing how chintzy that would look on the plate, finally caved and concluded he would have to serve an entire crab.

          Main dishes were similar. The pastas are house made. Excellent. The rigatoni with shrimp and cuttle fish, in a very light sauce was ethereal. Bravo to the chef. Yet, while I didn't count the pieces of rigatoni, I do not think there were more than ten in the bowl. And we aren't talking big pieces of rigatoni. Another pasta, linguini with crab and sea urchin seemed a bit larger, but that may have been because it was piled nicely in the middle of a plate. Pasta with clams was also excellent. Sizing was again the issue. The fish mains were again small, though not tiny. We also has two sides, both sauteed green vegetables. Again those were good but, those were teeny, tiny. A few pieces of broccoli rabe. It would have been enough to serve alongside a dish anywhere else, and I mean on the same plate as the main dish. I'm thinking from what we were served, the kitchen is getting about 12 servings of broccoli rabe from each bunch. At this point in the meal we considered how the chef could remedy the situation. Perhaps he should just write, on the menu, "if you have come here hungry, expecting a full meal, we suggest you order two of everything. And, by the way, our pasta dishes are actually half orders, so if you want that as a main dish, order two."

          The dessert options were not nearly as enticing as the rest of the menu. Some sorbet we had was again very good, again very small, particularly for the price, three small globes of sorbet.

          With the 20% off now in effect - and set to expire in a couple of days - the meal could be viewed in a somewhat more lenient light. (And no, we have no reason to believe that portions are smaller during this so called discount window.) Yet, the starters are all around $15-25, pastas are in the low $20s, main dishes well above that. The few leafs of greens we ordered were, I think, about $8 or so per plate. Thus, we are not talking inexpensive here, by the standards of any restaurant in the city. On that issue, it isn't approaching the standards of Le Bernardin, or similar. The crowd is very UES, well tended and mostly well coiffed.

          Marea is brand new and has received much advance press. It will and should be packed over the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see if these economic times will support such a place going forward. Finally, I should disclose I was not paying for the meal. On my dime, or most likely anyone else's, I would not return until the kitchen sends out portions commensurate with the price point. All of us left hungry.

          8 Replies
          1. re: comiendosiempre

            I went to Marea last night with my boyfriend, and he and I had a wonderful, WONDERFUL time. I think it's unfair to complain that you left hungry when the waiter told you that you weren't ordering enough food. Our waiter had a slightly grumpy yet lovable way about him, but he was very knowledgeable and very happy to help. The rest of the service was very hospitable. Wine was poured at a nice pace, and they did not rush us through the bottle. Also, we were impressed with the attention being paid to everything on the table being perfectly arranged. Also, the china is gorgeous, with subtle scale themes. I definitely want a set.

            We asked our waiter to explain the menu, because it was a bit confusing (our one complaint), and he happily did so. He noted that the first items on the menu were little bites to share. Then he suggested we get some crudo, a hot appetizer to share, a pasta to share, and 2 main dishes. We ended up following his suggestion, but when they were out of the entree I wanted (salmon poached in duck fat--I WILL be back for that one), I ordered a second pasta. Many of our dishes were based on the waiter's recommendation.

            Our small bite to start was sea urchin on crostini covered with a delicious veil of lardo. Really heavenly, and this, along with the fusilli I describe below, are the two dishes I must have again when we return.

            Then we had the tasting of three crudo and chose tuna with crispy artichokes, fluke, and shrimp. Each one was fantastic, but the shrimp were like none I've ever tasted before--almost creamy.

            Next we shared the semolina crusted softshell crab, which was great and was served with small crispy cubes of salami.

            Then we were on to my favorite dish of the night. My boyfriend and I shared fusilli with octopus and bone marrow. That sauce was truly out of this world, and he and I both agreed we could have eaten 5 bowls of this pasta.

            We moved on to our final savory dishes. My boyfriend had cuttlefish, which he had grilled with a lemon oregano sauce. It came as a quite generous portion. He ordered roasted beets to go with it, and they were a perfect complement. I had the rigatoni with shrimp and cuttlefish, which was delicious but very decadent. It may have had egg yolk mixed in.

            Desserts were very tasty. They are not huge, but they are the perfect end to the meal. My boyfriend had a chocolate panna cotta, which was light and flavorful, with cocoa nibs on the plate that provided a very high-class "chocolate crunchies" feel (this is a good thing). I did think my dessert was the winner though. Three small squares of dense, moist zucchini cake with lemon cream on top of each, served with an amazing scoop of frozen yogurt. I would undoubtedly order that again.

            We also had our favorite bottle of wine ($45) and I had a sinful cocktail called The Marea, which came with the most delicious element--a syrup soaked hibiscus flower. This drink was potent but sweet--flavored with passion fruit. Including the drinks the meal cost $213 (pre-discount), which we thought was an excellent deal for everything we enjoyed.

            We will definitely be returning.

            1. re: lawgirl1984

              Agree with lawgirl -- the way to go at Marea is multi-course, we did something similar, four top, we did two snacks + two crudo for our first course, 2 anti pasti next, two pastas for a third course and then four separate entrees.

              entrees I think were the weakest -- my wife had the salmon which was good, the rest of us had the fish grilled with our choice of sauce. It wasn't that they were bad, it's just that they were small and compared to the earlier dishes, very familiar tasting.

              The tuna crudo was OK -- the better choice was the marlin as the caviar really made it pop. Love the sardine snack and the chickpea fritters were great as well.

              Did the octopus and the lobster antipasti -- the octopus didn't seem that small and it was very tender with a nice char. the rice was perfectly al dente. loved the lobster, like a caprese salad taken up a notch.

              the pasta are very good - cod + spec -- wow, incredible rich and unctuous -- i actually preferred it to the sea urchin and crab pasta.

              i was the only one who had dessert and the corn cakes with rhubarb -- this should be on a brunch menu, just fantastic.

              I think the menu is too big, too sprawling, trying to do two many things at one time. I question how they will be able to maintain freshness for so many seafood items. Also, the columns - comical! there are tables that are nearly impossible to reach.

              oh, and the chairs are very uncomfortable. and they still haven't fixed the ladies rooms doors (only one works).

            2. re: comiendosiempre

              Wow...I feel as though you were at the same table as me and were listening to all of my funny. I JUST told my boyfriend last night that there was no way this was on par of Le Bernardin or any other fantastic seafood place. Again, a nice space that I am sure with all the hype will be full to capacity, but I expect to leave a restaurant of that caliber having had a great meal and service that compliments it.

              1. re: taboo

                I am wondering if anybody has been to Marea lately (in addition to the above comments) I am going on Saturday. There has been so much 'guff' about the tiny portion sizes i was wondering if:

                1) What dishes are a good food/price value. I know this sounds cheap/stingy/vagabondish but I really don't want to spend crazy money for a tiny little bite of food. Is this possible at Marea?

                2) Have portion sizes gotten bigger?

                1. re: hkhungry

                  I know you're looking to comments from other posters, but I would say that you may be disappointed in the crudo food/price value, just because the quantity is very small.

                  1. re: hkhungry

                    Went for brunch and was very satisfied with the portions for the money, especially in the pasta department. SO insisted on tue branzino which was a little small for a secondo. His polipo primo was a nice size though as were the astice and my fusili.

                    1. re: melpy

                      I have decided to return to Marea this coming Saturday. I have not been back since I started this post in 2009. Fingers crossed that it will be great......

                      1. re: taboo

                        So, after trying this again on Saturday night, my opinion and that of my dining partner remain the same. Good, not great at all. Restaurant was packed at 6PM so we sat in the lounge area which was still fine. Service was good and that was about it. Appetizers were the Octopus with Chili oil and the Lobster salad. Next was a fish with mushrooms and the Spagetti. All was way oversalted with the first 2 courses being very very small. Next we shared the salt baked Bronzino and funny enough that was the only dish that was not tasting too salty, but done nicely. Desserts were a tasting of Sorbets and ice cream. Next came a plate of chocolates and a muffin for the morning. Marea is a nice restaurant, but after 2 times there and not being thrilled, I would go to any of the other restaurants in the area that are so so much better.

                        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

              2. any other recent reports on Marea? I read a lot of old complaints on portion size, but then I see some recent pictures which make the portions look decent...any insight here, as well?

                5 Replies
                1. re: klept

                  I'm going for lunch on the 26th. I hope it's more than merely good at the prices they're charging ($45 prix fixe, but only for 2 courses). I gather the burrata is one thing I should order. Any favorites among the crudi? And how worthwhile would it be for me to really destroy my low-carb diet for a day by having dessert, and if so, which ones are the greatest?

                  1. re: Pan

                    If you are going to destroy your low carb go with one of the pastas. The appetizers and pastas are the real reasons to go.
                    I think if you are going for the first time you should get the spaghetti with crab and sea urchin or the fusilli with octopus and bone marrow. Marea is justifiably famous for these two.

                    The crudos have always been good to me but nothing special. If you get any of them, get the geoduck. On the lunch menu I would rather get the lobster burrata.

                    1. re: MVNYC

                      Thanks a lot. I've hated raw clams (though I like them cooked), so I'd probably pass up the geoduck, and therefore, maybe the crudi in general.

                      1. re: MVNYC

                        And if you've tried the fusilli and spaghetti don't overlook the excellent non-seafood pastas like the shot rib ravioli and the duck ragu.

                        Among the desserts in the current menu I've enjoyed the strati di cioccolato and the torta di olio.

                        1. re: H Manning

                          Agree! Astice, fusilli or spaghetti. I would get both to share.
                          We also enjoyed their simple cheese ravioli with pesto

                  2. we ate there last night…did tasting menu…scallops, were fair, sardines, ok, risotto good, ravioli, fair, branzino good, escarole fair, eggplant good, gelato good, cheese palte good, service ok, room, ok…would i return??? perhaps, but not rushing back, on scale of 1-10, ill give the place a 6.875 out,

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: intrepid3591

                      Chef White knows how to do branzino.
                      Never had a less than very fine meal here.
                      Highly recommended.