When Manhattan’s vaunted Italian seafood restaurant Marea went on hiatus at the beginning of this summer to renovate its Central Park South space, chef Lauren DeSteno took to the high seas.
Through the end of September, DeSteno and her kitchen crew are spending every Monday evening aboard the Classic Harbor Line schooner America 2.0, serving three courses of small bites with an optional wine pairing while the tall ship embarks on a sunset cruise of New York Harbor.
“We were trying to come up with a Marea experience for our guests, and we had to find something that was special,” DeSteno says. “We were like, Marea, it means ‘tide’ [in Italian], so we were trying to find a boat environment, and Classic Harbor Line has been the most amazing partner for this. They really echo the sentiment of hospitality that we try to provide, so it’s been seamless.”
The cruises depart from Pier 62, adjacent to Hudson River Park and Chelsea Piers. The crew pours complimentary glasses of sparkling wine as the ship motors down the Hudson River, past Little Island and The Whitney Museum of American Art. Soon, the ship is skirting the southern tip of Manhattan, with views of the World Trade Center and the other towers of the Financial District. The sails go up, billowing in the wind, and out comes the first course, a plate of four small bites—a tuna tartare and caviar gougére, an East Coast oyster in escabeche, a hamachi crudo, and a branzino crudo with panzanella—paired with a soave classico, a white wine from the Veneto.
Not long after that, the ship reaches Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and a second course reaches diners’ hands: beef tartare, caponata-stuffed eggplant, a “seafood salad” skewer, and one of Marea’s specialties, a spoon filled with astice (lobster), tomato, eggplant, and stracciatella. There’s also a lovely rosato wine from Puglia.
“The astice spoon is one of our signatures,” DeSteno says. “We wanted the menu to build in flavor and heaviness, but we didn’t want it to be too fussy—we wanted it to be easy to eat and have a little sense of playfulness.”
With the sun dipping below the horizon, the Jet Skis, motorboats, and other tourist cruises are beginning to make their way back ashore, so the America 2.0 does the same. What would such a sweet cruise be without dessert, though? So, out comes the final bite: a small cookie and a cream puff, along with a moscato d’Asti with lots of residual sugar. Everyone returns to dry land enchanted by the experience—including the chef herself.
“It’s amazing,” DeSteno says. “I haven’t been out on the water here in 20 years—it’s so beautiful.”
The Marea at Sea cruises take place Monday evenings through September 25 and range from $178 per person (food only) to $228 per person (with wine pairing); book at sail-nyc.com.