Monday, July 8, 2013


Here, I waited.  I know this chef's reputation, but upon the opening of The Marrow, press had it that it wasn't quite running full tilt, so I gave him time to bring it up to snuff with chef Harold Dieterle's other establishments, Perilla and Kin Shop.  Both are exceptional, and so when I was searching for a dining destination without the possibility for disappointment, I reverted to the premise of this very blog, by name.  And so I ended up at The Marrow, a German-Italian conglomerate tucked into the heart of the West Village.

And by German-Italian, I don't by any stretch mean some sort of Euro-fusion.  There are distinctly two sides to the menu: the German dishes and the Italian ones, specifically delineated.  We ordered a fairly decent variety of the two, but as you'll see, the chef's last name hints toward which country I think wins the battle.

A warm, soft pretzel roll (decidedly German) was provided with a fruity olive oil (Italian) with which to anoint it.  This set the stage: there is an even balance between the two influences, often quite complimentary.  We were going to order one strictly from the German side and one from the Italian, but the point of going to a restaurant is ordering what one likes, so we ditched that strategy.  We

 both began from the Italian side, I with a salad of roasted bluefoots (my favorite), the earthy mushrooms augmented by startlingly juicy and sweet strawberries and a drizzle of saucy balsamic scattered with microgreens.  Things are plated with precision and artistry, maybe even a bit fussier than my tastes might dictate, but they are expertly balanced in both flavor and proportion.
My dining companion opted for housemade rigatoni in a spicy duck ragu, and while the chunky sauce clung masterfully to it signature
 ridges, the pasta itself was was suspiciously al dente- but then, I tend to prefer my noodles on the softer side.  Plus, the rich, meaty sauce was hearty enough to stand up to the toothsome tubes.

For entrees we both went pescatarian, but this time we took sides.  From la Famiglia, black cod was glazed in precious white balsamic, then perched atop a bushel of spring produce: sliced sugar snap peas, white asparagus tips and chewy shittake mushrooms, all swimming in a verdant green garlic sauce, fresh but robust.  Good as this was, the familie Dieterle took the match with pan roasted grouper, braised with swiss chard and sauteed salsify atop a richly dilled gruner sauce, magnifying the intensity of this underused herb with the brightness of citrus, vinegar and sour cream.  The salsify was deeply browned, pairing with sour cream and the hefty fish to impart a richness to the dish, but the herbs and tart vinegar kept it fresh.  The menu at The Marrow changes so frequently that already the fish has in this dish has been substituted for daurade just a week later, but the rest of the components remain- so get it while you can.  Certainly can't fault the guy for ebbing along with the seasons, of course, but hopefully this preparation will endure.  It is even topped with a decadent little spoonful of trout roe, which added added a contrasting spark of color as well.  We took a side of blistered green beans, too, which probably weren't really needed but were immensely enjoyed, riffing on a Nicoise with a rich slick of tuna-belly caper sauce and garlicky fried breadcrumbs for crunch.

Desserts cease to segregate themselves patriotic notions, although you could probably still assign them up to the opposing sides if you tried.  You might have to seek out some distant French cousins or something in order to categorize them all properly, though.  But when it comes to pastry, there are probably more name variants for the same entities than actual formulations, so our strawberry meringue would feel at home either in the Boot or Deutschland... or here in the city, as it were.  A simple little bowl it was, impeccable local strawberries and sorbet made from more of the same, tumbled with squares of moist poundcake cupped in a crisp, light meringue.  Not wildly exciting, but a delicious, simple finish.  Given the coffee cultures of both countries, the java here lives up, and this fruit concoction paired geniously with the strong brew.  Ginger stout cake with roasted peaches and honey ice cream was simlarly tempting, especially since the pastry chef's name is Ginger Fisher.  She may have given special care to that one, eponymously.  The final listing on the dessert menu sums it all up:  Leckerle Gelati und Sorbetti.  Adjectives and conjunctions in German, nouns, Italian.  And they all add up to an artfully phrased sentence.

 99 bank st. , (corner of greenwich & bank streets)
  tel: 212.428.6000

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