240 Central Park South,

New York, NY 10019-1457

Tel. 212 582-5100

June 2010

Pasta. Pasta. Pasta. That seemed to be the theme at this recent dinner at Marea. Not a problem, though, as I can’t think of too many places I would rather indulge in what is arguably Italy’s greatest contribution to gastronomy. Executive Chef Michael White has a knack not only for reinventing classic dishes but also for creating new combinations of flavors and textures that are mind-blowing. White’s mixture of exuberance and meticulous attention to detail comes through vividly in all of these dishes, even when he isn’t personally in the kitchen. As always service was first-class; attentive but never intrusive. Sommelier Sophie Leibowitz did a great job with our wines.

We started with a selection of crudo, which was a perfect way to ease into the evening. The Pacific langoustines with Murray River pink salt and the Hawaiian marlin with sturgeon caviar were both sublime. I loved the rigatoni with salt cod arrabbiata, olivers, capers a dish that reminded me of so many summers spent in southern Italy. It was a great pasta. The tagliolini with saffron, artichokes and halibut fin was creative and perfectly executed, as all of the flavors came together with beautiful focus and clarity. The lobster ravioli? What’s not to love…they were fantastic. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the risotto with squid ink and spring onions that I had a few weeks prior. The rice was cooked perfectly al dente with a decided leaning towards the al dente, just the way I think risotto should be cooked. The seasoning and balance was terrific. Carnivores will adore the cavatelli and with veal, sweetbreads and mushrooms.

After a refreshing Aperol aperitivo we dived into the well-chosen wine list. I was intrigued by Vajra’s 2008 Langhe Bianco, an unusual Piedmont Riesling made from Alsatian clones. This rich, textured white impressed for its finesse, length and class. Varietal notes came through gradually with air, but the wine seemed rather closed since I last tasted it a year ago. Still, it was beautiful with the crudo, rigatoni and lobster ravioli. Nino Negri’s 2004 Sfursat Vigneto Fracia surprised me for how well it paired with the saffron tagliolini, especially the artichokes in that dish. Sfursat is made from late-harvested Nebbiolo in Italy’s Valtellina, and it may have been that slight hint of sweetness that made this such an enjoyable food wine. Crushed red berries, flowers, licorice and subtle French oak lingered on the elegant finish. 

Readers who haven’t been to Marea yet are missing out on one of New York City’s very finest eating and drinking destinations


Crudo al Taglio

Rigatoni; salt cod arrabbiata, olivers, capers

Tagliolini; saffron ribbons, artichokes, halibut fin

Tortelli; lobster ravioli, bagna cauda, trout roe

Risotto Nero di Seppia; spring onions, squid ink 



G.D. Vajra Langhe Bianco



Nino Negri Sfursat Vigneto Fracia


[Photo and credit: Marea, New York]

 --Antonio Galloni