Near Columbus Circle on Central Park South is Marea, chef Michael White's newest fantastic NYC eatery, where we had incredible meals about a week ago.

The amuse was an elegant and ususual clear-brothed squash soup

My stunning antipasto (Astice) was like a brilliant play on a Caprese salad--super succulent Nova Scotia lobster meat enriched by lusciously silky and milky burrata and sharpened by tomatoes plus basil leaves and a basil seed slurry (basil seeds are currently big in NYC). This is beautiful, beautiful food simultaneously delicate and powerful.

RJZ's jewel-like crudo--scallop with blood orange

This is the dish Marea is most famous for--perfectly al dente fusilli with strands of melt-in-your-mouth-tender red-wine-braised octupus, garlic and tomato finished off with impossibly unctuous bone marrow and crunchy, toasted breadcrumbs. To eat this mindblower is to believe that great Italian cuisine (my favorite food in the world) can actually be improved here in America. Do not die before eating this!

RJZ's garganelli with sausage ragu and parmigiano tasted like the best Bolognese dish you never had--unimproveable!

Chef White's bold, creative, even daring touch showed up in this pairing of red snapper with earthy blood sausage (housemade, naturally) and double-take-making citrusy mushrooms.

RJZ's crispy-skinned, tender guinea hen (this popular-with-Italians bird is how that infamous Italian epithet likely arose) with roasted sweet potato and green cauliflower tops...

...that looked like they were out of a fairytale.

My hit-me-in-all-the-right-spots dessert was an affogato made by pouring intense (i.e. perfetto) espresso and amaro over zabaglione gelato; I enjoyed that one with a glass of Caffo Del Cappo Amaro. WHEEEEE!

RJZ's caramello--a perfect marriage of caramel custard, mini dark chocolate cake, buttermilk sherbet and caramel crispies

Candies for later

Not only is Marea a top-tier NYC eatery, but it offers excellent big city value (four knockout courses for $89) and a terrific wine list (delicious Falanghinas for reasonable prices!)