Good News/Bad News: Marea

After months of anticipation, chef Michael White and partner Chris Cannon's haute seafood spot Marea opened its doors over two weeks ago in the old Central Park South San Domenico space. Leading up its opening, in addition to the expected buzz, there were even murmurs of four-star predictions. Now that the lights are on and food is coming out of the kitchen, how does all this talk hold up? Early reviews chalk up major points to White's menu and the gorgeous decor, but can a restaurant with less than recession-friendly prices survive in this climate? Onto the good news, bad news, and everything in between.

The Fantastic News: Gourmet reports that there's much to fawn over, paying special attention to the decor, "When I walked into Marea [...] I was a little shocked at what Chris Cannon and Michael White’s team has accomplished. With a raised ceiling and a clean, uncluttered look (lots of white with a few red accents), it’s become a space you want to hang out in. So when he turns his hand to seafood, the results are pretty much what you would expect: wholly satisfying, free of fussiness, but with just enough flourishes to make it special. Plus, he has a spot-on ability to combine seemingly disparate ingredients. Even in this “preview” period, when everything is 20 percent off, they were excellent. Recession or no, I’m betting that this one will stick around." [Gourmet]

The Brief, Great News: @ruthreichl files a tweet about her "truly stunning" meal: "Consoled myself with lunch at Marea. Truly stunning food; Squid "tagliatelle," pasta with sea urchin + crab, raw tuna with fried artichoke." [Twitter]

The Good News: A 'Hounder gets in an early word: "My husband and I ate there on Monday night, and had a wonderful time. It is a beautiful, elegant room, and the food was wonderful, excellent quality and simply prepared - I think it would be hard to go wrong. My main course was the cuttle fish - something I would never prepare myself and so fresh that I felt like I was in a seaside Italian village. This could be a new favorite place for us. I should mention two things though: The restaurant hasn't officially opened yet, and so it is in "preview" which means that your bill is less 20%. I was so happy about that." [CH]

The Brief, Not So Great News: @gaelgreene sends word via Twitter, echoing some concerns about portion sizes, "Foodie VIPs & media stars at busy Marea lasnight. "Much to work on," admits 3*chef Michael White. Pasta portions not big enough for me." [Twitter]

The Amazing News: A Menupages user files a rave, all while getting in a quick jab at the elderly, "Marea is an incredible choice that really stands out in a market crowded with great options. I can't imagine someone having something legitimately negative to say about it (did the reviewer on 2 below me SERIOUSLY just complain that the restaurant wasn't full at 7pm on a Friday night?!? This is NYC grandpa. If you want the early bird specials, I suggest you move to Boca). I could eat here every week!" [Menupages]
--Matt Duckor

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