Marea

An upscale seafood spot near Central Park
VERIFIED LUXURY
Chef Michael White is seemingly everywhere these days. At the upscale, seafood-focused Marea, he took a big gamble, opening up the unapologetically fine-dining spot (with prices to match) during the economic downturn. It seems he has another hit on his hands.

Located right at the base of Central Park, this modern eatery aims to do for seafood what chef White has done for pasta — in short, elevate it to new heights. Where he seemingly does this best is in many of the fresh, whole fish options priced by the pound and simply adorned with olive oil and salt.

While the dining room is elegant with sea shells dipped in silver, plan your visit to begin with a drink at the gorgeous, back-lit European honey onyx-backed bar and start with a plate of the signature crudo.
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Our Inspector's Highlights
• The Italian restaurant is known for its celebration of seafood (“Marea” means “tide” in Italian), whether it’s the all-raw “Crudi” menu — with dishes’ flavors increasing in intensity as you go down the menu — or the various treatments in the antipasti or principali.

• Though the Four-Star restaurant is certainly upscale, it is considerably less stuffy than most other fine dining establishments in the city, with bright colors in modern shapes, seen in the red lamps and décor of large fish along the window sills.

• Since the atmosphere is more relaxed, patrons also freely engage in conversation, creating a livelier atmosphere.

• In keeping with its Italian focus, Marea imports many of its wines from Italy: About 60 percent of its wine list comprises of wines from Northwest Italy and Southeastern France.

• The service at Marea is what makes you want to go back — and back again. Attentive servers will happily walk you through the large menu, explaining how to best navigate your decisions for the night.
Things to Know
• Marea is open for lunch during the week between the hours of noon and 2:30 p.m., but you can enjoy a limited bar menu available from 2:30 p.m. until dinner hours.

• Dinner on Monday through Thursday starts at 5:30 and goes until 11 p.m. and from 5 to 11: 30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch is not available on Saturdays, but is offered on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and can be a nice way to save a few bucks. Dinner on Sunday is from 5 to 10:30 p.m.

• You won’t need to break out your Sunday best, but you’ll probably feel most comfortable in the New York restaurant in business casual attire: men can leave the ties at home.
The Food
• The menu begins with small bites meant to be shared with the table like the Japanese shishito peppers sprinkled with sea salt or the panzerotti; or the smoked eggplant, ricotta and bottargo.

• The crudo portion of the menu is the sashimi-like section that typically comes with four small pieces of sliced raw fish and shellfish. For those looking to be slightly adventurous, we recommend the vongole made with geoduck clams, fresh chilies and hearts of palm.

• Pastas make up the next course and, since all are made in house, you really can’t go wrong. We love the fusilli with red wine-braised octopus and bone marrow for the rich and flavorful sauce it’s served with — it’s a signature dish on the menu and you’ll want to save some bread for sopping up the remaining sauce.

• If you don’t mind a sweet kick to your pasta, order the fresh-cut semolina spaghetti, which includes crab, sea urchin, and basil — this dish has been on the menu since the New York restaurant first opened, and not without reason.

• Whole fish, like the salt-baked wild bass, is also available with your choice of condiments like a citrus lemon or the salmoriglio: Sicilian capers and wild oregano.
The Bar
• Marea has an excellent bar and lounge area that’s on the left side of the restaurant when you first walk in. The lounge also serves a full menu, so if you’re looking for a lighter way to spend the evening, that’s an excellent choice.

• The bar has high bar seats and is perfect for sipping on a warming cocktail on a cold night or something more light and refreshing for the hot and humid summer months.

• For a whiskey drink that isn’t too heavy, we love the Sugarbush, made with Irish whiskey, nocino (a walnut liquor), pure McClure maple syrup and lemon.

• The bar is the perfect place to stimulate the appetite before dinner while waiting for other guests to arrive or just to soak up more of the relaxing and fun atmosphere that the Four-Star restaurant offers.
Getting There
240 Central Park South, New York, New York 10019
TEL212-582-5100