There is something special about eating in a place like New York‘s Marea that goes way beyond the food. Stepping into this upper-class haven in Midtown on a Saturday afternoon feels like stepping onto the yacht of the CEO for a Fortune 500 company. That is, catching a glimpse into the lives of Upper East siders; women in power suits, backcombed hair and oversized pearls and the bored-looking Wall Street husbands who still wear suits on the weekends.
The nautical décor of the restaurant takes the theme quite literally with beautiful dark-lacquered wood panelling, enlarged shiny spiral seashells planted across the room, and of course, crisp white tablecloths. Big, bright windows overlooking Central Park line one half of the sleek space while the other is reserved for the restaurant’s impressive rack of wines to suit a menu of equally refined dishes.
Marea is the kind of establishment you quickly see is for the wives, not the mistresses. But this place ticks boxes for more than just the imperial ambience. The impressive seafood menu has been created by ambitious chef Michael White, the same mastermind behind New York favourite, Convivio.
Like the décor, White’s southern Italian dishes such as the selection of crudi, the Italian version of sashimi, nova scotia lobster with burrata and eggplant, razor clams in saffron and a selection of delicately homemade pastas are built to impress the pampered, spoilt-for-choice Manhattanites. And impress this place does, from the list of delicious fish from far-flung seas, the impressively sophisticated décor and wildly steep prices to go with it. Tony Soprano might not have appreciated the refined approach to Italian dining, or the ineffable supremacy of its clientele. But after tasting White’s ruby red shrimp gnochetti, or fresh semolina crab pasta paired with a crisp Pinot Grigio, he might end up weeping for his homeland.
By Marilyn MacDonald
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