My most recent restaurant outing in New York City was one I was eagerly anticipating for weeks leading up to it. I had booked a group of us to dine at The Marrow, Harold Diertle’s (The 1st ever Top Chef Winner for those not familiar), latest venture. The restaurant opened last year and I had been trying to get a reservation there the past two Restaurant Weeks with no success. This time around I wasted no time, setting up our reservation 28 days out (The latest they will allow) on OpenTable.
There was a reason behind my slightly over-zealous attempt to experience The Marrow. I have seen Harold Diertle’s restaurants continuously show up on “Must”, “Top”, and “Trend” lists. Although I have yet to stop in at his other spots, The Kin Shop (Thai) and Perilla (Italian), they both have forged great names for themselves in the New York City dining scene. The Marrow showcases a fusion of classic German and Italian cuisines, inspired by the chef’s own ancestral lineage. This interesting mix of cultural cuisines is what intrigued me to choose this location over his others. The Marrow surprisingly started off with mixed reviews but, as the restaurant has settled into its West Village location, it seems the reception of the food has grown. I was about to find out for myself what sets this restaurant apart.
My boyfriend and I arrived a few minutes early as we left ourselves lots of extra time coming from Jersey on a Friday night. We saddled up at the bar and the bartender let us know we had just a few minutes left to put a Happy Hour order in (about 3 to be precise…it runs until 7PM in case you are wondering). This included a list of their German and Italian beers and wines. For $5 a glass we could have our pick. We picked a German beer and an Italian wine and put in an order of the house pickles to munch on while we waited. The pickles were not just the classic cucumber but included cauliflower, radishes, onions, fennel, and carrots as well. It resembled an Italian giardiniera which is a relish of pickled vegetables. I loved the spicy (with just a hint of sweet) vinegar along with the pickling spices that brined the vegetables. My favorite of the pickled vegetables was the sweet, tender onions.
While we were biding our time with drinks and pickles I took a look around to observe the ambiance of the restaurant. I was surprised to find that it was hard to nail down one definitive description of the décor. Every wall varied in its composition. There was exposed brick near the bar, wood beams on another wall, kitschy wallpaper adorned the front half of the restaurant, and metal accented wood lined the scattered red vinyl booths. It was a blend of refined modern and relaxed traditional pieces. And yet, it all worked.
With our guests on the way we put in one last drink order before moving to the table. I asked about the handful of cocktail options looking for some direction or a recommendation. The bartender gave me some interesting background on Mezcal, a distilled alcohol made from maguey, a form of agave. It is similar to tequila and it is on the rise on bar shelves across the country. He stated that he loved the smoky flavor that’s also shared with a hint of heat and sugar. I decided to go for the Matador cocktail which featured Vida Mezcal, lime ginger and cassis (black current liquor). I could not have explained it better than the bartender had. The smoke is very apparent but; the other liquors provided a tart finish.
Once we settled in with our guests the menu dissection began. I immediately set my sights on options that were not on the Pre-Fixe Restaurant Week menu. Our table ended up being split in half on ordering off the regular menu versus the promotional one. As we finalized our decisions we dipped the bread that was delivered in either olive oil or the jalapeño aioli. We then started with a shared appetizer for the table of Baby Calamari Fra Diavolo.The calamari tasted fresh and the red sauce with white lima beans that it was tossed in was warm and savory. There was a small amount of chew to the calamari which may be a result of overcooking but the flavor was there.
My personal appetizer was the House Made Bucatini. This was the stand out dish of the night. The house made pasta was perfectly al dente. The rich, velvety sauce was speckled with caramelized cauliflower and pistachios and topped with crusty breadcrumbs. It was a flavor profile I had not experienced in the past and it was spectacular. My boyfriend got the house specialty, the bone marrow. I wanted to experience this myself however; it was topped with aioli (Which I despise) and it didn’t feel right to modify the dish. I would not have gotten the true experience the restaurant intended. The consistency of the marrow was cause for some commentary and restraint (none of us had tried bone marrow prior to this) but, in the end the plate was cleared.
After having an Italian influenced starter I wanted to get the German inspiration with my next course. I chose the Pan-Fried Duck Schnitzel. The buttery spaetzle with a hazelnut crunch that the schnitzel laid on top of was noteworthy. As for the duck, I wouldn’t have known the difference between this and a classic wiener schnitzel (veal). Nonetheless; the fried cutlet of meat was devoured. The meal was also paired with a classic cucumber and potato salad with vinaigrette and plump, soaked raisins. The other meal at our table (2 of us got duck schnitzel and the other 2 got this dish) was the Spicy Lamb and Ricotta Meatballs. People around the restaurant were raving about this dish. It went as far as a dining neighbor yelling over to our table that we MUST order it. I had a bite and I will say there was a bit of food envy. The tender meatballs were topped with an arrabiatta style sauce and peppery greens. They were melt in your mouth good!
I was too full to order my own dessert but our guests had ordered from the pre-fixe and their meals came with this third course. We were provided with one of each, a yogurt panna cotta and a lemon olive oil cake with crème fraiche ice cream. The olive oil cake was deliciously dense cake and the ice cream was a refreshing accompaniment. The panna cotta was like a decomposed “fruit on the bottom” yogurt cup.
Our night at The Marrow was an evening of new gastronomical experiences and great service. From the bartender to the server, everyone was personable, helpful and genuinely friendly. This boutique restaurant is a great option for anyone looking for an out of the box experience or a worldly menu.
Take a look at their website and menu here: http://www.themarrownyc.com/
Tweet them at: @TheMarrowNYC
…all for the love of the dish