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Two Unforgettable Experiences at NYC's Best New Restaurant -- Marea

The Keeper Team split up for this one. The first group dined at Marea for lunch, and the other group attended later that evening to enjoy dinner. Both teams experienced Marea in a unique way with a different menu, but both experiences were superb – Proving even further why this elegant Italian hideaway along Central Park South deserves its recently awarded title of Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.

What we Ordered at Lunch:

See the Lunch Menu

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Sgombro- Pacific Jack Mackerel, Duck Prosciutto, Pomegranate

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Polipo – Grilled Octopus, Smoked Potatoes, Pickled Red Onion, Chilies, Tonnato

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Fusilli - Durum Wheat Pasta, Red Wine Braised Octopus, Bone Marrow

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Tagliata- Creekstone Farms Prime Sirloin, Bone Marrow Panzanella, Braised Romaine

What we Drank at Lunch:

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2006, Luca Ferraris, Monferrato Rosso Il Re

Favorite Lunch Dish:

The Polipo dish was outstanding. The octopus was cooked beautifully and seasoned perfectly. The potatoes contained just the right amount of smoke – overall, an excellently balanced plate. The Fusilli, a Marea trademark dish, was delicious, don’t get us wrong, but we were a little disappointed in the weak presence of the bone marrow. We were left wanting “more marrow!” with each bite. Anyone who likes bone marrow can surely relate.

Least Favorite Lunch Dish:

The Sgombro was good, but in comparison to the rest of the spread, it was easily surpassed. We had some differing opinions at the table about the presence of the duck prosciutto. Some thought it got lost in the dish, others that that the saltiness and firmness of the prosciutto was a defining element of the dish as a whole.

Other Lunch Highlights:

We chose to partake in Marea’s Business Lunch. This consists of a Primo and a Secondo for a fixed price and then you can order additional items as you wish. One thing to note about this is that the portions of the Business Lunch are rather small, so chances are, you’ll end up selecting a few additional menu items and possibly spending just as much as you would have in the first place. On the other hand, because of the small portions, this is nice way to get to taste more dishes without overstuffing yourself.

What we Ordered at Dinner:

See the Dinner Menu

We were seated right away and got a the familiar wine-induced warm fuzzies as we passed the wine cooler, which was filled to the brim, as was the restaurant, packed with patrons.

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We divided and conquered what was ahead with one side exploring the options for food and the other side devouring the unique wine list. Hmmm, our minds immediately drifted towards our trips to Puglia. The world of food and wine collided when we placed our orders. After seeing such a beautiful fish presented to the table, we had to have Branzino.

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Whole Branzino

We ordered some small dishes before the Branzino.

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Sardine - House Marinated Sardines Topped with Arugula

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Polipo- Grilled Octopus, Smoked Potatoes, Pickled Red Onion, Chilies, Tonnato

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Calamari – Squid and Calabrese Sausage Ripieno, Kale, Sunchoke, Crustacean Sugetto

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Astice – Nova Scotia Lobster, Burrata, Eggplant al Funghetto, Basil

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Salsiccia – Housemade Seafood Sausage, Red Cabbage, Veal Tongue, Potato, Hazelnuts

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Agnolotti – Veal Ravioli, Sweetbreads, Funghi

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Branzino –Wild Bass, (Italy) Salt Baked

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Roasted Beets, Ricotta Salata

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Eggplant Agrodolce

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta

What we Drank at Dinner:

The wine list offered some interesting wines from producers that we hadn’t yet tried. We are never ones to turn down new wines, so we went for it. The wine captain was extremely enthusiastic and promised us that the wines would drink beautifully right now. He was right!

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Favorite Dinner Dish:

The fresh Branzino with the 4 dipping sauces was wonderful, again sparking many memories of our Italian travels with Southern Visions. The fish was prepared beautifully and the sauces were an ultimate complement to the fish, neglecting to take anything away from the prominent flavor of the fish itself. The sardines were also lovely and so fresh.

Other Dinner Highlights:

The service was good – attentive but not overly so. Considering the packed house, the staff didn’t seem to miss a beat. The ambiance is elegant but relaxed. White tablecloths, well lit, peaceful – a very Italian coastal feel.

Ultimate Question – would you go back if you lived in NYC?:

The Keeper Team would be delighted to return to Marea for either Lunch or Dinner. There are still so many menu items left to try and so much room left in our stomachs!

Restaurant Name: Marea 240 Central Park South New York, NY 10019 212.582.5100

Chef Name: Chef Michael White

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