Monday, June 27, 2011
For Pete's birthday, I decided to take him out for a culinary experience, rather than just a "great dinner." With the help of my foodie friend Jenny, I chose Marea. Over the past few months, I've heard great things about Marea and knew it was a must-visit.
I kept the restaurant choice a secret and Pete was thrilled when I showed him the menu before we left the apartment. We both knew that we were going to be very full.
When we arrived at Marea, we were seated in the lounge area. We actually liked it more than the main dining room because it had a "hipper" vibe and we were able to people watch (It's near the bar). Since we knew this was going to be an intense meal, we opted for the recommended four-course pre-fix menu. We also agreed to not get the same dishes... We wanted to taste as many things as possible!
ASTICE nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil
*Pete had the Astice, which was to-die for. I had serious food envy. Not that mine wasn't good, but his was out of this world.
UOVO poached egg, spring garlic, bone marrow, baby eel, passatelli, barley brodo
*I went a little out of my comfort zone and tried the Uovo. It was definitely a "cool"dish and had great flavors, although the consistencies threw me off a bit. I didn't realize there was eel in the dish and slightly regretted choosing it afterwards.
The pasta course was incredible, hands down the stand-out course. It was a really difficult decision to choose our dishes, but ultimately we took the waitresses advice and went with the two most popular and well-known options...
FUSILLI red wine braised octopus, bone marrow
*Pete ordered the fusilli, which The New York Times recently called "a revelation." They were so right. I don't even like octopus and this dish was rockin'.
SPAGHETTI crab, santa barbara sea urchin, basil
*The winner of the night for me! The spaghetti was so delicious. I never thought I'd say this, but it was better than the spaghetti at Scarpetta. I had never tried sea urchin, but Pete ensured me that I'd like it. He was spot on! The hint of sea urchin mixed into the sauce was perfect. I could have had an entree portion!
All of the entrees sounded great, so choosing dinner was tough. We knew that Marea is known for their seafood, so we both chose from the fish menu.
CAPESANTE roasted sea scallops, marinated beets, frisee, grilled wax beans, yellow tomato, hazelnuts
*Pete had the roasted sea scallops and they were phenomenal. We both thought that there were little mushrooms on the plate as well, but looking back, they were definitely hazelnuts. Oops! The scallops were cooked perfectly, seared hard on the outside, but fluffy on the inside.
IPPOGLOSSO herb crusted alaskan halibut, broccoli rabe, soppressata, porcini mushroom, cipollini
*Another great dish. Once again, perfectly cooked halibut! And the fish was so light and fluffy... It was just delicious. Luckily, it was light because the pasta had filled me up a bit!
Picking our desserts was basically torture. EVERYTHING sounded great. Our waitress was really helpful and picked out two winners for us.
BOMBOLONI - fried doughnut holes, lemon cream, prickly pear sorbet, cassis
*These doughnut holes were so good! They were sugared on the outside and so light and airy on the inside! Paired with the sorbet and lemon cream... Amazing!
AFFOGATO - zabaglione gelato, espresso and amaro
*The affogato was similar to a grown up milkshake! As full as I was, I could not put this down.
Overall, our experience at Marea was incredible. Our waitress was superb... We even made sure to tell one of the managers on our way out. For a special culinary experience, definitely try Marea!