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I recently went to Marea in New York City for the first time, after reading excellent reviews of and hearing tremendous things about Chef Michael White‘s restaurant. Upon arriving, I noticed the restaurant’s ocean atmosphere, resembling the deck of a yacht with a sleek and modern design. This suits the restaurant’s strong emphasis on seafood. Various elements including red lamps and conch shells add a certain pop to the clean setting. The walls are paneled with polished wood and the carpet is dark, creating an elegant atmosphere and indicating the high-quality meal to be enjoyed.

Our waitress handed out the menus, took the orders and left us. Marea offers an excellent prix fixe menu including a primo and second for $47. We were served bread (I had olive focaccia, which was fantastic), and we waited for our meal.

The primi arrived. I had the ‘assaggio di tre’ which featured, three raw options of my choosing. Each was phenomenal, though I just wish the portion was larger… It was a taste, quite literally in the sense of the word.

I was left with a desire for more excellent seafood.

From left to right: seppia (cuttlefish tagliatelle, soffrito crudo, bottarga di muggine, lemon), dentice (pacific snapper, prosciutto, celery, tomato), and tonno (bigeye tuna, oyster crema, crispy sunchoke).

From left to right: seppia (cuttlefish tagliatelle, soffrito crudo, bottarga di muggine, lemon), dentice (pacific snapper, prosciutto, celery, tomato), and tonno (bigeye tuna, oyster crema, crispy sunchoke)

I was eagerly awaiting the fusilli, a dish I had been craving for several years since I first read about the restaurant. I cannot put it any other way than saying the pasta was absolutely exquisite. At first bite, I noticed how perfect the fusilli were: they bit back and tasted of proper pasta. The sauce was phenomenal. It was made with red wine braised octopus cooked perfectly, making it so tender. The bone marrow added a delicate, well-balanced fatty element to the dish, scattered throughout and finding itself on my fork when needed. As I ate, I could feel my expectations of seafood rise above my head like a bubble dancing to the surface of the sea.

Fusilli (durum wheat pasta, red wine braised octopus, bone marrow)

Fusilli (durum wheat pasta, red wine braised octopus, bone marrow)

Upon leaving, we were given a small, fist-sized cake that resembled pannetore, although without the fruit, and topped with sugar crystals. I devoured it the next morning for breakfast.

I left Marea as a very happy boy, with a full stomach and a big smile on my face.

This was a superb meal, and I look forward to returning to Marea in the future.

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