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Seafood shrine is a great catch.

  • Cuisine: Coastal Italian
  • Vibe: Breezy fine dining
  • Occasion: Business or bargain lunch, romantic date, dinner for an occasion
  • Don’t Miss: Lobster with burrata, brodetto di pesce, garganelli with sausage ragu, zucchini torte with frozen yogurt
  • Price: Appetizers, $11; entrees, $18; dessert, $9
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Phone: (212) 582-5100
  • Location: 240 Central Park South, between Broadway & Seventh Ave.

Chef Michael White is either really confident or completely out of
his mind. These days everyone is scaling back and lowering prices.
Everyone, that is, except for White and partner Chris Cannon, who just opened Marea, a haute seafood restaurant on Central Park South.

main dining room is furnished with high-gloss rosewood, chocolate
leather banquettes, silver-coated seashells and roaming silver trolleys
lined with liqueurs. And what’s most compelling about Marea’s dining
room isn’t the decor, it’s that the seats are always filled with guests.

White and Cannon established themselves as serious restaurateurs at Alto and Convivio, prominent Italian restaurants in Manhattan. And instead of ­downsizing during the slump, they’ve expanded their empire with a new 150-seat restaurant.

always been known for ­rustic, hearty cooking and his way with pasta
and meat. At Marea, he’s venturing into seafood and delicate crudos
with an extensive seafood menu that rivals the selection at Milos and
Le Bernardin.

So do the prices. When you’re serving seafood,
you really can’t afford to cut quality. Marea’s menu is filled with
astoundingly fresh fish — lobster and zucchini-filled squid with
roasted tomato, sea scallops with orange and arugula, and rigatoni with
shrimp ragu and seppia. The menu is divided into crudi (teeny bites)
antipasti (small bites), pastas, fish and meat entrees, and whole fish
sold by the pound.

I think every table should start with the
lardo crostini smeared with sea urchin, an unexpected and clever
combination of flavors. There’s a lot of originality here, especially
in the pairing of fish and cheese, like a phenomenal antipasti of
burrata and lobster with eggplant funghi and a basil-seed vinaigrette.
My favorite pasta dish is the house-made spaghetti tossed with garlic,
crab, sea urchin and oven-dried tomatoes…

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