New York City: Marea

Though the food at San Domenico was often wonderful, I never really liked being there; gloomy and disjointed, it was perhaps the most depressing high-end dining room in New York. So when I walked into Marea, which is in the same location, 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. And the bar, backed by a long, warmly glowing wall of bookmatched Egyptian alabaster, is truly stunning, worth stopping by for a drink just to see it. But it would be foolish indeed not to eat as well. White has shown, at Convivio and Alto, that he is a master of haute Italian. 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: Cuttlefish tagliatelle with sofritto crudo and bottarga di muggine. Braised Oregon morels filled with shrimp sausage. Baby octopus with bone marrow. Roasted turbot on the bone with mushrooms and red wine-Marsala sauce. 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.

Marea 240 Central Park South, New York City (212-582-5100;



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