March 13, 2012
- Service: Excellent
- Cost: $$$$
- Wine / Cocktails: Excellent
Marea is a beautiful restaurant. The first thing you notice when entering is the incredible backsplash behind the bar. It is honey onyx and you feel like you are sitting underground in a quarry cave that has been made into the most elegant of bars. The walls are covered with rosewood which lends itself to giving this sleek and sophisticated dining room a cozy atmosphere, sort of like a private, non snobby club where you need a membership to belong to, where the service is great, personal and everybody knows your name.
My friend and I were escorted to our table and the symphony began. Our server brought over an amuse bouche from the chef of ocean trout in a Meyer lemon cure with creme fraiche potato foam and trout roe on top of a shmear of beet puree. Could it have gotten better from there? I was happy just with the amuse bouche. Next we had the Ricci (a signature dish), sea urchin, lardo and a sprinkle of sea salt on toast. All we could do was sigh, smile at each other and wish there were more than two pieces to an order. Uovo, a sous vide farm egg, fondant potatoes with black truffle, taleggio and spinach arrives nestled in a bowl. It was exquisite, luxurious and when I die I want this to be part of my last meal. Next, the Vongole; geoduck clam, chiles, lemon and hearts of palm sliced like sashimi . The geoduck was slightly chewy and the chile was muted. Nice dish but not for me. My friend loved it though.
The chef was kind enough to give appetizer sized portions of the pastas and risotto. The pasta is handmade and deliciously dense with bite in a perfect way. The spaghetti with crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin and basil was ever so slightly bland and not as rich as the ingredients would indicate it should be. Nonetheless, it was still a dish you can't improve that much. The fusilli (a signature dish) with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow sauce was in one word simply, fantastic. The puttanesca risotto with tuna, capers, tomato and olives was also very good but the rice had too much bite. Finally, as if that was not enough, we had the Seppia, grilled mediterranean cuttlefish, braised escarole, taggio olives in a livornese sauce (similar to puttanesca without the anchovies). The cuttlefish was fork tender, the sauce was richer than the similar puttanesca sauce on the risottto with full bodied, rich flavors. It was delicious. Also, be sure to consult one of the sommeliers to help you pair a wine to compliment your meal.
I must say that I have to start ordering desserts just for the purpose of reviewing. For personal health reasons, I rarely eat sweets but here, I should have. Our server brought us a dessert "amuse bouche" (for lack of a better phrase), of grapefruit gelee with honey pearls, grapefruit segments and honey infused greek yogurt. A delightful way to end an extraordinary meal with a one bite dessert exploding in my mouth. I can deal with that.
While one can go broke eating at this restaurant. I would rather be poor and spend what I have on the ultimate meal in a fabulous restaurant than eat in mediocre ones. I look forward to returning soon and trying the rest of the menu.
Ricci, Fusilli, Uovo