Listen to Merle on "Real Talk with Jim Lisa"
May 13, 2021
DINNER AT MARSEILLEThe French/Mediterranean/Moroccan “Casa Blanca style” restaurant, located at 630 9th Avenue & 44th St. (212-333-3410) was recently acquired by Nice Martin chef Andy D’Amico.
The eclectic menu offers “Meze”, little dishes, similar to the Spanish “tapas”. Sampled three. Tapenade, finely chopped marinated olives, is served with slices of hard bread. A basket of baked fluffy pita bread topped with “zatar” is brought to your table and a much better choice to “smear” it on to. Braised short rib cigars are thin crispy “spring rolls” filled with meat from short ribs sitting atop hummus. The Shrimp beignets are lightly battered and fried shrimp minus the shell served with a “rouille”.
Off to the appetizers to check out the seared sea scallops with minced lemon and chives served with frisee, a curly endive. We then split a Mediterranean chopped salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, peppers, olives, feta cheese and toasted pita with a lemon vinaigrette.
For me it was a choice of either a marseilaisse preparation of Bouillabasisse, using Atlantic coast fish vs. shellfish, and the grilled striped bass. The bass passed. Not a “fishy” fish and served with a combination of olive oil braising of sunchokes, zucchini and fennel sitting atop pureed potatoes.
My friend opted for the Moroccan chicken, breast and wing part, baked with preserved lemon, toasted pistachios and green olives. Although it is traditionally served with swiss chard, white string beans with parmesan were requested as a substitute.
At this point I was thinking that the chef must have been spending 23 of the 24 hours a day concocting these recipes as he charged a two drink minimum to strangers who would sit near his kitchen and sample them while filling out a feedback/mailing list form.
All of the desserts, including the sometimes unexpected flavored ice creams and sorbets are made on the premises. While my college buddy chose the flourless chocolate cake with cherry sorbet, I went out on a limb for a dessert special of semolina pudding made with semolina, cream and egg yolks, and port wine reduction, garnished with fresh figs and topped with cardamom ice cream. Marseille gives Hell’s Kitchen a heavenly experience
October 14, 2004 - Queens Times
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