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Marea and Lincoln Center Restaurants

  • October 21, 2013

It’s that time of year in New York when restaurants around Lincoln Center fill with people patronizing the arts – from opera to ballet and other cultural events. The “hip” restaurants may be below 14th street,  (according to some) but that doesn’t mean the Upper West Side around Lincoln Center is barren of good restaurants either. Marea is a perfect example. The name means “tide” in Italian, and that’s a clue that it’s a seafood restaurant – a very good seafood restaurant – and one of my favorites in Manhattan, along with Esca and Le Bernardin. The menu does post an offering or two for meat lovers, but the star is the seafood, guided by Chef Michael White.

White is executive chef and co-owner of the Altamarea Group, a collection of restaurants that includes Osteria Morini in New York’s Soho neighborhood and another one of the same name in Bernardsville, New Jersey. White’s reach extends further into New Jersey with Due Mari in New Brunswick and as far away as Hong Kong with his restaurant Al Molo.
Marea, which is located on Central Park South, is at the former site of San Domenico. White, in fact, cut his culinary teeth at the original San Domenico in Imola, Italy, in the Emilia Romagna region.
Dinner at Marea does not come cheap, but it’s worth a splurge every once in a while when the food is this good.
We sat down and were immediately presented with an amuse bouche to take the edge off our appetites:
bits of smoked salmon atop herbed rice crackers smeared with crème fraiche and a radish slice.
Crudo (raw seafood), served in a variety of ways, features prominently as a starter, as do a selection of oysters and caviar. But we skipped ahead to the antipasti, including these:
grilled octopus with smoked potatoes, pickled red onions, radish and chilies.
warm mediterranean red prawn, porcini, sunchoke, prawn sugo:
slow poached egg, cuttlefish, pine nuts, with a smoky swath of olive paste swished across the plate.
We moved on to the pasta, which is a specialty here – all homemade,  of course. They were all toothsome to the bite – and delicious. Here are a couple of examples, and I’m sorry to say I forgot some of the ingredients in this dish, but it was packed with flavor – linguini with lobster and cabbage (yes, cabbage – who’d have thunk?) and a crunchy topping:
Tagliolini with manila clams, calamari and peperoncini:
Main courses were equally well prepared and inventive: scallops with potato puree, fried chickpea, brussel sprouts, golden raisins and pickled mustard
a moist and thick piece of halibut in a broth with clams, peppers and celery.
The first time I ate here we ordered dessert. I can’t tell you the specifics but there was chocolate and coffee and ice cream too and it was divine. See for yourself. The presentation also was beautiful.
But even if you skip dessert, they’ll bring some mignardises to the table to satiate your sweet tooth. In this case, it was biscotti and small cream puffs flecked with gold leaf.
On another occasion, it was these little bites:
There are plenty of other restaurants besides Marea in the Lincoln Center area, too. Here are a few where I’ve eaten over the years.

Cafe Fiorello – On Broadway, right across the street from Lincoln Center and my old standby. I love everything on the menu, except the pizzas, which are huge flatbreads that could serve two people. They seem very popular, but I’m partial to Neapolitan style pizza. If you find a spot at the bar, you can make your dinner from the vast antipasti on display and can scoot in and out in a half hour. Warning: very noisy when full.
La Boite En Bois – charming French restaurant on 68th St. near Columbus Ave. Always delicious, with pre-theatre pre-fixe at very reasonable prices and not usually noisy either.
Boulud Sud – Also across the street from Lincoln Center on Broadway – near Fiorello. Pricey, but delicious and elegant food. Right in front of the restaurant is Bar Boulud, a less expensive bistro and wine bar.
Lincoln – Fine dining with contemporary Italian food – and quiet – in a location that couldn’t be more convenient – right on the Lincoln Center campus. pricey.

Picholine – The food is delicious, the decor is lovely but the service was a little too “precious” the night we were there, with waiters hovering over us so closely we felt conspicuous. Not the feeling you want when you’re paying a lot of money for dinner.

The Leopard – At the former site of “Cafe Des Artistes” – 1 West 67th St.) and even better than the old restaurant. Wonderful Italian food in a beautiful setting (they kept the old murals thankfully). Also pricey.
  • P.J.Clarke’s – Low cost alternative with great burgers. West 63rd – just a hop and skip from L.C.
So tell me, what are some of your favorite spots that I missed here in the Lincoln Center area? Let us know in the comment section of the blog.


Rosemary Flatbreads

  • March 22, 2013

  This is going to be trouble. When I spotted these flatbreads a few weeks ago on the blog Marcellina in Cucina, they immediately reminded me of what’s heaped in a basket at you sit down to eat at Cafe Fiorello, a New York City restaurant across the street from Lincoln Center. I’ve munched on that basket of flatbreads dozens of times over the years before heading to the opera or ballet but never managed to make them at home. Not that I tried.. until now. And as I write this, having eaten four of these flatbreads in a row, (one with a fresh avocado smeared over it) I’m wondering whether finding this recipe was such a good thing. They’re seriously addictive. If I don’t stash the rest of them in a tin far from my sight, I may scarf down the rest before I finish writing this. That would be a shame, not because they’re laden with calories, but because they’re the perfect thing for sharing with friends over a glass of wine.

They’re not hard to make either, even for those of you who are yeast-averse. They just take a while to bake because there are so many of them and your oven can only hold a couple of baking sheets at a time. I mixed the minced rosemary right into the dough, rather than sprinkle it only on top before baking.
After the dough has risen for an hour or so, separate it into 16 pieces.
Then roll them out and don’t worry if they’re misshapen or larger or smaller than the recipe calls for. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sea salt. For some, I used a fleur de sel. For others, I used a homemade dried herbs and sea salt combination. You can experiment and use any herbs  and/or spices you like.
 They look attractive in a basket, but they’re large, so you’ll want to break them into smaller pieces for serving. Drinks not included.



For another take on these flatbreads, take a look at Antonietta’s version of Fiorello’s flatbreads at her blog Cipolli.
Rosemary Flatbread



1 cup
(240 ml) warm water (about 110 F/43 C)


teaspoon (5 ml) (2 ¾ gm) active dry yeast
cups (720 ml) (420 gm) (15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more
for rolling
tablespoons (45 ml) of extra virgin olive oil
salt (I used 1 tsp.)
teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water, for egg wash
salt, for sprinkling
cup (60 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) fresh rosemary or thyme ( I used minced rosemary)
(homemade seasoned salt made by combining dried homegrown herbs with sea salt)
the water in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle the yeast. Let stand
until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, oil, 2
teaspoons coarse salt, and the sugar. Stir until a dough forms. Add the minced rosemary.
out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth,
about 2 minutes. Use as much flour as necessary so it is not a sticky
dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and roll the dough around in the
bowl so that it is also lightly oiled on the surface. Cover with
saran wrap. Let stand in a warm place until it doubles in volume,
about 1 hour.
oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Divide dough into 16 equal
portions and cover with plastic wrap. Roll out each piece to
approximately 4″x10″ (10cm x 26cm) on a lightly floured
surface. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with the egg
mixture and sprinkle with sea salt and herbs (or homemade seasoned salt.)
rotating sheet halfway through baking, until crisp and golden, 18-22
minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to
cool completely.
and Freezing Instructions/Tips: Store in an airtight container at
room temperature for up to 1 month. Prolong the freshness by freezing
for up to 3 months.