Sam Sifton files his highly anticipated review of Chris Cannon and Michael White's schmancy Italian seafood spot Marea, a holdover from Frankie Boom Boom Bruni. Though in some circles the hope was for four stars, others contend, and Sammy agrees, it was a slight stretch, even back when Italophile Bruni was at the throne. There are a lot of hits, a miss or two, but first, it's time to get sexy with some crostini:
The very first item on the menu at Marea is ricci, a piece of warm toast slathered with sea urchin roe, blanketed in a thin sheet of lardo, and dotted with sea salt. It offers exactly the sensation as kissing an extremely attractive person for the first time — a bolt of surprise and pleasure combined. The salt and fat give way to primal sweetness and combine in deeply agreeable ways. The feeling lingers on the tongue and vibrates through the body.
The rest of the review is pretty much a list of the deliciousness that can be found at the restaurant—try the burrata with lobster, Sifty says, the fusilli, the spaghetti, the sirloin, the geoduck—until he comes to his one critique: "The main courses —secondi di pesce, the menu calls them — are the restaurant’s weakness. After the brilliance of the appetizer course and the winning flavors of those pastas, it is difficult to maintain focus on an architectural marvel involving porcini-dusted sea scallops." But nevertheless, he's smitten: "It is not cheap nor meant to be. Art in Manhattan can be like that." [NYT]
Gael Greene makes a couple visits to MePa newcomer Abe & Arthur's, gets weird service and mostly excellent food, concluding, "If they turn up the lights and tone down the music, grownups that care about eating might want to come." [Insatiable Critic]
Jay Cheshes gives the Monkey Bar a second try and realizes it's actually improved, awarding it three out of five stars: "the food fueling this new clubhouse was actually stuff I’d pay good money to eat...Oysters Rockefeller, a straight-up classic, features plump, silky bivalves and top-notch creamed spinach...Even more impressive among the meaty mains is the peppery pink bone-in veal chop...While the food is vastly improved, service remains cold and aloof." [TONY]
Plattypants files a twofer on Gabe Stulman's Joseph Leonard and Sfoglia's little sis in Nolita Civetta, awarding both one star. The former: "the room takes on a pleasantly intimate, cocktail-party feel. Joseph Leonard’s very standard bistro menu isn’t inspired enough to add to this festive atmosphere, but neither is it so horrible that it detracts from the proceedings." The latter: "if you choose wisely, it’s possible to have a decent meal." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Ryan Sutton wishes more pizzerias were like the new East Village location of Motorino, Tables for Two takes a look at the banh mi explosion, John Mariani has some nice things to say about Oceana, Ed Cook files on some unsung food vendors for the Under, Metromix hits Brooklyn's Bueno, and while the Cuzzo doesn't file a proper review of SD26, he does have a rave for their half sized portions.
THE BLOGS: Centrico turns out to be NY Journal's lease favorite Nieporent project, Goodies First tries out Brooklyn newcomer Sur Parette, The Food Doc has a serviceable brunch at the Brooklyn Star, Always Hungry has a rave for St. Mark's Place's newest, Mark Burger, and Ed Levine gives a B+/B- to 'Wichcraft's dinner menu.