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Mar 15, 2011 04:43 AM

Marea -- lunch or dinner?

Help please with a decision for an upcoming trip -- should I seek reservations for Marea for lunch or dinner? My must-haves are the lobster burrata aspice, the octopus fusilli, and the affogato. That ends up being $48 for two courses (supplement for lobster) and doesn't include dessert. Husband will probably get a fish or meat secondi so we can share if we do lunch. If we do dinner, we would probably get the dover sole for the main, which we've never had and sounds like a great deal. But the dover sole for lunch has a huge supplement charge. Price is not really the issue here but value is, so appreciate the insights.

240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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  1. I've been for lunch and it was terrific. I had the lobster burrata, fusilli with octopus and bone marrow, and halibut which was one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had but it isn't on the menu as of now. All three dishes were equally extraordinary tho.

    Portion sizes were great and they did not skimp on anything because it was lunch time.

    3 Replies
    1. re: steakrules85

      Thanks steak -- was your trip a recent one? It sounds lik the prix fixe for lunch is 2 courses not three. Did you get the three courses or did you share with a dining companion? I'm sure two courses is enough food, I'm just wondering if dinner is the better bargain (although $89 is clearly not cheap!)

      1. re: edub

        I went this past summer. Funny, I could have sworn that it was a 3 course prix fixe when I went. Not sure if that has changed but I remember it being an extreme bargain.

        Maybe they caught on that it was such a bargain and have made it only 2 courses now? Not sure to tell you the truth. I will have to do some investigating. But I know I did not have any dessert which was not included.

        1. re: edub

          The current prix fixe lunch is $42 for two courses, with a $32 supplement for the dover sole.

          For dinner, the dover sole is priced at $62/lb. Ive never had it there, so I'm not sure how it would be priced in the context of the $89 dinner prix fixe.

          Your other must-haves, the lobster with burrata, fusiili with octopus, and the affogato, are all very good. If you or your husband are open to other choices, I'd recommend the grilled octopus with smoked potatoes, spaghetti with crab and sea urchin, and risotto mare.

      2. Unlike my good friend steakrules and despite being a fan of Michael White's cooking, I was not enthused about either of the two dinners we had a Marea. I did not have the lobster or the fusilli. However, I did love the affogato. Had it both times.

        Marea photos here:

        and here:

        1. As discussed on my recent review of Marea:
          The way to go at Marea might just possibly be completely a la carte. Especially if you are thinking of having a whole fish as we did, the rest of the meal will be just as spectacular, and I do think that the prix fixe portions are smaller, so if it's about value and not price, I definitely recommend dinner and forgetting about the prix fixe and the supplements.

          5 Replies
          1. re: fooder

            I agree with Fooder about A la carte being a great way to go. We were there on Saturday night with our daughter and the three of us split the Branzino with two sides, two full-size pastas, oysters and we each had dessert. It was the perfect amount of food...though I could have eaten another order of the pasta because it was sooo good!

            1. re: KateMW

              My two cents on having eaten there in December and again in mid - February is go with dinner and do the full tasting (I have not done lunch btw)...that being said the menus were very similar with a dish or two difference but amazing and worth it in every way - left full but not bursting at the seams...regardless of what you decide I dont doubt for a second you will love it in either way! Enjoy!!!!

              1. re: koko85

                From the comments above, I am not sure if everyone realizes that you can select the whole fish on the four-course menu.

                Three of us dined here last night and I will add my own voice to the laudatory comments about the food. I consider myself an adventurous diner but the octopus appetizer is so marvelous, with its combination of smoked potatoes, grilled octopus, and pickled onion, that I have never deviated from this dish in several visits.

                Last night I decided to forego my beloved fusilli with octopus and marrow (as everyone undoubtedly knows by now, this ranks with the best pasta dishes in the city) and, instead, chose two antipasti, with the other being the lobster/burrata, paired with eggplant cooked "mushroom style," and available at a $6 supplement. Smashing! (One quibble here is that this dish should have been served before the octopus, as the flavors are milder)

                My sister was wowed by the Orechiette with Red Shrimp. So wowed that she parted only with one morsel, which was enough to vaunt this to a spot on my "future" list. Much richer than one would have thought, given the listed ingredients. Perhaps there is an unlisted ingredient in the form of butter!

                Partner was equally complimentary about the garganelli with sausage ragu.

                For Secondi, we were presented with a two-pound wild branzino which yielded generous portions for the three of us. Perfectly cooked. Small quibble: My partner complained of many bones in his filet.

                To our vegetable selections--kale topped with almond slivers and eggplant agrodolce--we added tiny fingerling potatoes, simply prepared. ($8 supplement) Having been swept away by the delights of the caponata on previous visits, I wonder why this has been banished in favor of the eggplant which was good but not ethereal. The caponata had been a highlight of previous dinners; the eggplant was merely very good.

                Desserts were also excellent; with the selections different than those listed on the current online menu, I cannot remember the names of the three we sampled, but of those, the clear winner for me was the crostata with chocolate and coffee flavors. Runner up: A hazelnut and chocolate confection. Both served with a scoop of gelato. Panna cotta also lovely.

                Extra credit to Marea for offering the outstanding JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling by the glass.

                Service from our waiter, Mark, was excellent.

                Marea holds its place as one of my favorite NYC dining venues.

                240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                1. re: erica

                  I forgot to add: The amuse was a shot glass containing a brodo of winter squash with pumpkin seed oil and pepitas.

                  And after dessert, cake plate bearing chocolates (the salted caramel filling inside the dark chocolate was my favorite) along with sugar-glazed lemon squares and a pistachio confection.

                  1. re: erica

                    Yeah marea is a special restaurant in my opinion also.

                    The lobster and burrata, fusilli, and halibut I had on my lunch visit there last summer were three of the top dishes I had last year.

            2. We've also had a great meal at Marea. Excellent patas (in truth, we think some of the starters can and should be larger, on one visit the crudo plate consisted of one small piece of fish, perhaps sushi size, if that). We will have to try it for unch, it might be, as noted, the better deal.

              240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019