Surf and turf in Carne Mare at the seaport.
Photo: Mélissa Hom
In the ever-changing kaleidoscope of appetites and styles that define ‘fashions’ in the restaurant world, there are those places that tend to give off a sense of the present moment when you walk through the door and those that don’t. not. Andrew Carmellini’s new surf and turf adventure, Carne Mare, which opened not too long ago in the new Pier 17 development of the former Fulton Seaport, fits perfectly into the latter category. The walls of the two-story space are painted in shades of rusty steakhouse red. The lighting is subdued, like in a mid-20th century cocktail bar; the gently vibrating Vegas-club soundtrack seems to get louder as the dinner progresses; and the rows of large walrus-sized banquettes were clearly designed for consuming large red meat dinners instead of, say, the lighter, more trendy ‘plant-based’ meals that are popular in the city. these days.
“Are we in Vegas or New York?” someone asked as we perused the menus, which were passed around the table by lively waiters dressed as old-fashioned hotel bellboys, in tight burgundy jackets. A talkative gentleman from Parma recited the house specials, which included pink-shelled Alaskan king crab legs served with whipped fresh lemon aioli, and an elaborate piece on the old chophouse quarter salad called “The House Wedgini”. There were mozzarella sticks buffered with caviar available for the pre-pandemic price of $ 24, and massive portions of spaghetti topped with lobster chunks for double that price. There was a whole roasted “Ivan” duck, inspired by a recipe the chef had encountered on his travels in Italy, and two kinds of Wagyu, one of which was Carmellini and his crew matured in a smother of cheese. Gorgonzola.
I can’t remember precisely which dishes arrived at our walrus bench first, but to my slight surprise, most of them were built with precision and care, and many were delicious. I think of “homemade snacks” like small cups of fresh crab lettuce dressed in an Italian version of Sichuan chili crisp made with Calabrian chili oil, and grilled oysters, which are seared in a Parmesan crust. rigid and presented on a small bed of seashells. Caviar cheese sticks are likely to prove irresistible to Instagram lovers at your table, but there are also a variety of other presentable seafood appetizers to choose from (try the yellowfin and tuna tartare) and the rice balls dressed with chunks of a united taste better than the caviar sticks (and are almost as photogenic) at about half the price.
“This place is better than I expected,” said a jolly carnivore I know, as he happily digged into his Wedgini house, which was garnished with generous crumbs of gorgonzola and chunks of pancetta. Carmellini’s only contribution to the current plant craze – a 12-ounce roasted “beet steak” that is carved with great ceremony at the table – was also better than expected, although unlike other beet creations that I sampled, this one has a filling of softly melting goat butter. The tender, salt-baked black sea bass was also better than expected (besides the salt it’s wrapped in fig leaves), although if you want to save room for the “steak and chops” portion of dinner you’ll want Avoid the ‘spicy’ lobster spaghetti mentioned above, which were so big and rich that they knocked several guests on one of my visits into food-induced dizziness from which they never fully recovered.
The real reason to visit Carne Mare is for the steaks and chops, however, and if you’re still up after the preliminary round of dishes, and if you’ve got the money, they’re awesome. These two workhorses of the big-city steakhouse experience – the New York boneless strip loin and rib eye – have drawn several thumbs up to table beef eaters, as has the thick, tender version. “Cowboy” of Milanese veal, which the kitchen covers with the usual crust of breadcrumbs and serves on the bone with a large wedge of lemon. My excellent 16-ounce cut of prime rib was rubbed with the same potent blend of herbs and spices you’d find in a well-seasoned Tuscan porchetta, and the Wagyu strip curry with Gorgonzola turned out to be a thesis. ingenious on the tangy pleasures and bottom of the mouth of umami.
You can get a cavalcade of Italian-themed side dishes (“Marsala mushroom”, “sweet summer corn cacio e pepe”) to go with all that heavy bite of chophouse, though at least one traditionalist at the table in would have appreciated a spoonful or two. creamed spinach or mashed potatoes instead of sticky, cheesy polenta drips. Italian-style desserts, however, are much better than the usual homemade beef puddings and pies. There’s a smooth panna cotta served with a compote of summer berries and a refreshing selection of gelati and sorbets dressed in caramel sauces and candied citrus pieces. If you really want to go back to the pre-pandemic days of big cat portage dinners and three martini expense account lunch, call the awesome 17-layer chocolate cake, espresso-tinted and crowned with a gold. cherry covered with leaves on top.