Given that it’s our last night in midtown, I feel that I can finally let you in on my little Saturday secret…
Often talked about in “best of” articles, Marea has become synonymous with simply stunning seafood. Just shy of it’s second birthday, Michael White’s restaurant is already an undoubted player in the midtown power meal scene, and so procuring a table during prime time can prove impossible. But I’ve got something better than bribing and bartering to get a booking- le bar.
Now, I am a big fan of bar bites in general, and when my husband and I can steal a date night we’re often found side-saddle at some sought after speakeasy. But I’ve got to admit that the restaurant bar is the best spot in town. A full restaurant menu at your fingertips, a personal mixologist at your beckon call, and no reservations needed- it’s the ultimate luxury. As a chef, I may be committing a heinous culinary crime in what I am about to say, but in my opinion this is the perfect table for 2.
And at Marea the bar is set quite high.
With an stellar cellar, the wine and liquor list takes you on an uncharted tour through Italy, all from the most comfortable bar seats in existence. Master mixologist and maestro Thomas and bartender Emily (whose husband Sean is the mixologist at Craft) create a well orchestrated cocktailing experience- and if it’s not on the menu they’ll stop at nothing to create whatever concoction you have in mind.
From service to sustenance, what’s on offer at Marea only continues to impress. The large menu is wonderfully varied beginning with shared items (the shrimp, seaweed, and chickpea zeppole should not be ignored) and crudo. The antipasti contains some stars of the menu: Salt cod stuffed Calamari over grilled polenta and pine nuts, and Lobster and Burrata Basil Salad (an unconventional and unbelievable combo). Both knock out dishes are sure to end up on my best tastes of the year list.
The pastas are brilliant, but for the main dish I can’t seem to stop ordering the Ippoglosso.
This herb crusted wild Alaskan halibut pictured above is always meticulously prepared and perfectly balanced. A sleeper on the menu is the langoustine scampi (bellow). Accompanied by a quartet of condimenti, this makes for extremely elegant finger food.
And when in Rome, or Central Park South for that matter, have dessert!
I’ve had almost all the seasonal sorbets (the prickly pear is a must), but this time I got serious and ordered the Pralinato:
hazelnut praline and dark chocolate mouse, cut with lemon mint sorbet and a hazelnut parfait cream.
At Thomas’ suggestion, I paired it with a glass of sherry which gave new life to the nutty flavors in both drink and dessert. Utter decadence, utter delight: it was the ultimate date night.
Needless to say, Marea made our two month stay in midtown just a little bit magical.
240 Central Park South, NY, NY 10019
T: +1 212 582 5100