Time Out Says
In New York, Marea boasts not one, but two of those most sought-after culinary markers.
With that doubled expectation, and then opening in ultra-competitive DIFC the Italian seafood restaurant certainly had its work cut out for it.
But if anyone was worried for them, they were wasting their time. Befitting of Dubai International Financial Centre, Marea is the absolute business.
Pictures of the empty dining room (like the one here) don’t do the scene justice – at night, the restaurant is low-lit, packed out and abuzz with activity.
Service is flawless, while dishes are delicately and artistically plated, but not so much that they feel painstakingly tweezered.
This is fine, but not fiddly food.
Right down the fusilli, all the pastas are homemade, and staff are genuine and effusive about their favourites when asked.
It’s a real mix of dainty and hearty plates. Crudo cold fish dishes are served as four small slivers. Though delicious and decadently adorned (bass arrives topped with sturgeon caviar), a couple more pieces would make them more befitting the Dhs80-Dhs115 price tag.
Of the antipasti, don’t miss the salty, squidgy grilled octopus with brilliantly bouncy fregola, or the lightly coated fritto misto – both crowd-pleasers and fairly priced at Dhs88 each.
Of the mains, the roasted wild turbot is an absolute winner, swoon-inducingly crisped, coming apart in lucious, thick flakes.
And when they’re making them all in house, it would be madness not to pile into a pasta. That fusilli, coated in a sauce of tomato, bone marrow and baby octopus feels like what this place is all about – Italian food passion marries no-nonsense NYC.
Skip the gamberi rossi, which are rather astonishingly priced for the size (flown in from France, seemingly Business Class), and the only thing here that comes even close to disappointing.
It’s rare that a new restaurant exceeds expectations, especially when it’s so burdened with them. Marea has more than enough swagger to deserve the hype.
WHAT IS IT...
Italian restaurant by way of New York
Great vibes, slick service and a few culinary slam-dunks
07 Oct 2019
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