|Crudo Al Taglio or sliced, raw fish at Marea in Manhattan.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The menu at Marea offers an incredible variety of fresh seafood.
In fact, during a celebratory meal at the fine-dining Italian restaurant in Manhattan, I saw listings of fish I have never heard of, including Japanese greenling and Pacific parrotfish.
Marea means "tide," and I was delighted with what swam my way during a four-course, prix fixe dinner to celebrate my birthday on Sunday ($97).
I started with Lancia or raw Hawaiian blue marlin with sturgeon caviar in mussel vinaigrette, and the chef added a gift of Passera or raw Long Island fluke with lemon, caper and mint.
The fresh fish literally melted in my mouth.
|House-made squid-ink pasta with sepia and other seafood.|
All pastas are hand made in-house, and even the words in Italian make my mouth water: "Pasta fatta in casa."
For a second course, I chose Garganelli or squid-ink pasta with sepia, shrimp, scallops and butternut squash.
The firmness of the pasta contrasted with the tenderness of the rich seafood.
|Roasted Alaskan Halibut with toasted kale and pomegranate seeds.|
My entree of Ippoglosso or Roasted Alaskan Halibut was perfectly cooked. The thick, snowy fillet was moist and delicious.
I don't eat meat, but missed mention on the menu that pancetta or cured pork belly was included in the dish, and had to weed out four or five small pieces.
For dessert, I had the Tasting of Three Cheeses -- variously made from buffalo, cow, sheep and goat milk -- the perfect end to the meal.
I nursed a glass of prosecco, a sparkling dry white wine, until the end of the meal ($11).
|The final course was a Tasting of Three Cheeses.|
I was offered complimentary petits fours, but had already broken my diet by eating lots of bread crusts with olive oil, so I asked the server to take them away.
My no-bread, no-pizza, no-dessert diet has been so successful I was able to wear a sport jacket that was made for me 22 years ago.
I was surprised and disappointed not to see a salad listed on the menu, nor was I offered one, even though Italians usually end their meals that way.
The service at Marea is excellent, thanks to a big staff of captains, waiters and servers/bus boys, as well as a wine steward.
The young wine steward discussed whites with the couple on my left, and I noticed he was somewhat disheveled, with a mismatched suit jacket that was too small for him, a short beard and a shock of dark hair.
The servers describe each dish as they put it down in front of you, but sometimes, I couldn't understand their heavily accented English, and had to ask them to repeat themselves.
|The dining room at Marea echoes with the chatter of contented diners.|
|I dipped bread crusts in fruity extra-virgin olive oil.|
|A gift from the chef made from butternut squash, razor clam and frisee.|
The drive into Manhattan was easy, and sidewalks around the nearby Time Warner Center were full of people enjoying the final hours of the weekend.
There were only a few signs that Super Storm Sandy hit six days before, but streets were closed around the construction crane that broke atop at a 75-story building on West 57th.
I arrived early for my 6:30 p.m. reservation, and was seated next to a young Korean-American couple who spoke in California-accented English about celebrating "2 years together."
"Can you believe 2 years have gone by already?" he said.
"It seems longer," she replied.
Later, she brought up another woman he had dated, but he protested that was for only 3 months. She reminded him the relationship had lasted 8 months.
Meanwhile, I had a nice conversation with the young couple on the right, discussing food blogging and food safety.
Dinner at Marea was my fourth heart-healthy seafood meal in three days -- each one a small victory over harmful animal fats.
I had lunch at Seafood Gourmet in Maywood and dinner at Baumgart's in Englewood on Friday, and dinner at Legal Sea Foods in Paramus on Saturday.
I left Marea, wearing a warm overcoat and a fedora, and strolled over to the Time Warner Center, where I took the elevator to the fourth floor and the entrance to Per Se.
I'll return to Marea, of course, but looking over the menu offering a multi-course tasting meal for $295, including service, I thought Per Se would be a great place for my next birthday.
|The entrance to Per Se in Manhattan.|
Marea, 240 Central Park South, New York, N.Y.; 212-582-5100.
Web site: Delights from the seven seas