Family culture and food play a key role in defining an individual’s culinary background. Luckily for us New Yorkers, Harold Dieterle, owner of the popular restaurants Kin Shop and Perilla, finally went back to his roots. His new West Village restaurant, The Marrow, brings German and Italian food together, splitting the menu to represent both of Dieterle’s heritages. Famiglia Chiarelli boasts Italian dishes with homemade pastas, while Familie Dieterle puts a slightly modern twist on German classics.
The restaurant rightfully steers away from playing up the Italy meets Germany theme in their decor. Instead, simple black and white Victorian wallpaper, snug red-leather booths and dark wooden tables create a comfortable, yet high class environment. Antique cooking tools line the wood shelves near the bar, driving home the idea of old meets new while waiting to be seated.
Since it’s opening in early 2013, The Marrow has been one hottest spots to open in the city. My sister, Amanda, and I made our way to the West Village at 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon for an early dinner reservation. We were there to celebrate her 17th birthday (and a brand new driver’s license!) and I knew that this place would be perfect for the kind of meal we wanted.
The host seated us promptly at a table next to the bright floor to ceiling windows. Like all of Dietrerle’s restaurants, the waitstaff is top notch. I find you can judge a place by how they treat you when you do not order a glass of wine or a cocktail. Despite our decision to stick to tap water for the meal, the waiter continued to treat us as well as any other patron, helping to figure out the ordering of our meal to maximize the culinary experience.
While meats and other red meat dishes mark up the majority of the menu at The Marrow, the menu isn’t limiting. Amanda does not eat red meat, but this was absolutely not a problem, since you can easily enjoy all of their fish and poultry dishes.
We ordered four of the smaller dishes to share, plotting out our plan of action with the waiter. We decided to start with the day’s special, yellowtail tuna crudo with pickled rhubarb. But before our fish dish even arrived, a warm, round pretzel roll arrived, taking the place of a bland dinner roll. Paired with spicy, grain mustard and Italian olive oil, it perfectly brought together both Germany and Italy on one little ramekin.
The spicy grain mustard was absolutely addicting when placed on top of the warm pretzel roll. The crisp outside kept the warm, buttery inside in tact. Generous helpings of sea salt covered the top of the pretzel, elevating that traditional German snack to fit into a high class restaurant.
A few bites into our pretzel rolls, our first dish arrived, artfully split in two for each of us.
The pink color immediately made this dish extraordinary in presentation with the delicate elements artfully placed on the tuna. The pieces of yellowtail were lightly pickled, giving off the beautiful color, and inserting a light acidic flavor into the delicate fish. The other elements acted as texture, with bright burst of fresh peas, followed by the tartness of the pickled rhubarb. It was the ideal first dish, light and fresh, while getting the palate excited for what was to come.
Next, we ordered the lightly cured Arctic Char, a dish so completely up Amanda’s alley it seemed created just for her. Once again, the kitchen split the dish into two portions.
The cured Arctic Char might be the best preparation of salmon I have ever enjoyed. I wish I could easily take thin slices of the char and place on top of my morning bagel with cream cheese. All of the elements were there to highlight the beauty and integrity of the fish. A light horseradish cream sat beneath each piece of fish. I found the flavor to be extremely subtle in spice level, while Amanda, a lover of all things spicy, found the cream to be slightly bland. I think the enjoyment of that aspect of the dish is really dependent on how spicy you want it.
One of the more interesting elements was a little piece of crisp greens sticking up in the middle of the plate. We took a bite of the crisp chip and were pleasantly surprised by the subtle sweetness on the chip, tasting as if it had been brushed with a light honey glaze. I wish there was more then just the one piece. In addition, the candied pistachios were wildly addicting, adding a light sweet crunch to the dish. The mustard greens acted as a breath of fresh air from all of the other elements, binding everything together. However, there were a few pieces that were left behind when we finished the other elements of the plate.
Next, we turned to the main course. We decided to order quail, to help expand Amanda’s poultry palate. And of course, we felt it necessary to order the Bone Marrow, since after all, the restaurant is named for this signature dish.
The dish seemed to be a whimsical play on meat and potatoes, substituting the fatty beef for the lean game bird of quail. The German gravy-like sauce, sitting on the bottom of the bowl made the dish, inserting a complexity of flavor that’s hard to describe. The gravy was the grilled piece of quail’s saving grace, since the bird seemed to be slightly overdone, and bland in flavor on its own. However, when I dipped into the decadent rich and flavorful sauce, it was a whole other ball game. Amanda and I licked the bowl clean (not caring about the classy surroundings), enjoying the German gravy sauce that was so much lighter then one would expect. The lamb bacon added a salty richness without the fatty component of the traditional pork version. The fingerling potatoes on the bottom of the dish were cooked to perfection, melting in your mouth with the flavors of the delicious sweet and creamy sauce seeping into each bite. Next time, I’d ask for a bowl of potatoes and gravy and be completely content.
Finally, we turned to the restaurants namesake dish, the Marrow.
Bone Marrow can be described as a natural buttery gelatin that’s released when properly prepared. It’s heavenly, and extremely hard to make right. Here, they top the already decadent marrow with scoops of Uni (sea urchin) which is equally rich and buttery. Before tasting, it would seem as if the two ingredients, similar in texture, would create a one note dish. With one bite, I quickly realized the genius of this dish. Both components almost feel the same, but not quite. It’s a playful joke, combining the land and sea into the dish laying flavors like only an expert can. The light Meyer-lemon aioli inserts a subtle acidity and the celery greens add a necessary freshness to the decadent dish. I artfully placed the scoops of marrow and uni onto the charred bread, creating the most rich and flavorful crostini imaginable. I love marrow, and I clearly understand why they named the restaurant after this dish.
We of course needed to finish the meal on a sweet note (and with a candle for Amanda). Perhaps the one dish to get the most attention from Marrow, is the dessert. The Ginger Stout Cake to be exact.
The cake exceeded the hype. The gingerbread cake sat in a pool of a sticky, caramel sauce, which slowly seeped into the cake, creating a sweet crust on the bottom. Spiced and roasted plums topped the cake and a scoop of creamy, vanilla ice cream complimented the cake. Amanda loves ginger and dessert, and this cake was one of the best dishes she ever enjoyed.
As I paid our bill, the waiter placed two little dark chocolate, cherry biscotti on our table. Despite being so full, we gobbled these rich, chocolately cookie.
The Marrow was wonderful for everything we wanted in the meal. I totally understand the hype and will continue to support it. I would love to go back with a carnivorous friend and try the duck schnitzel that was on the table next to me, as well as some of the pastas, but on separate occasions. Our meal worked extremely well together, trying two dishes from each side of the menu. I would be interested to see if I would feel the same way if we tried the more extreme dishes. The atmosphere is adorable and wait staff some of the best in the business. The Marrow will be here to stay, and I’m already waiting in anticipation for Dietrele’s next successful restaurant venture.
The Marrow – 99 Bank Street – New York, NY
Location: West Village, NY
Type: Italian, German
Perfect For: Date Night, Dinner with Parents, Special Occasions
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Lightly Cured Arctic Char, The Bone Marrow, Ginger Stout Cake, Duck Schnitzel