HOW MARBLE DOWNTOWN MANAGED TO CREATE AN ITALIAN-INSPIRED YET GLOBALLY INCLUSIVE STEAKHOUSE MENU
BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN
When Marble Downtown opened its doors this past spring in Manhattan’s popular Meatpacking District, the posh rustic/modern steakhouse was greeted by almost instant fame.
“From May till September, we’ve received almost five stars on every review on every site,” the restaurant’s owners noted in a statement. “Even recently, while simultaneously doing private events and à la carte, we are still getting rave reviews on a daily basis about our food, service, and concepts. A steakhouse is essentially a rich person’s saloon you go to a saloon for a cheeseburger and a beer; you go to a steakhouse for a cabernet and a porterhouse. Adding fine Italian to prime steaks and chops opens up a wider variety for guests: Tuscan-style fish, rustic vegetables, homemade pasta they are all on the menu.”
Operated by the Marble Group, a boutique hospitality company that builds, owns, and operates a number of food and beverage properties across the globe, the restaurant is Italian-inspired yet globally influenced. Its award-winning chef Vincent P. Michaels, with three decades of experience under his belt, describes the straightforward but elegant bill of fare as “a high-end cross between a New World Italian restaurant and classic dry-aged prime American steakhouse.”
“There are a lot of fun restaurants, especially steakhouses, in New York that choose to sacrifice food for ambience. Marble doesn’t do that,” the owners noted. “We wanted to provide an upscale but home-cooked feeling. [This is] a place where you can have a nice dinner…stay for a drink or a whole night out.”
The former home of Scarpetta, a legendary Big Apple restaurant, the site required some renovations, but there was a good foundation already in place.
“The skeleton gave us a lot to work with,” the owners said. “We were fortunate that it was a restaurant beforehand, but we wanted to add our own spin.” These additions include a retractable roof and a front garden, creating an al fresco dining area.
Chef Michaels, who has worked in the kitchens of more than 30 restaurants and is renowned for a restlessly innovative style, pays homage to his Italian roots at Marble, concocting pasta dishes like Lobster Pappardelle, Linguine alla Vongole, Osso Bucco Agnolotti, and Rigatoni Bolognese, and entrees such as Scallopini of Milk-Fed Veal and Organic Balsamic Chicken.
“I love to prepare fresh fish, shellfish, rustic grilled and sautéed vegetables, made with what we call the ‘mother sauces.’ Plus, fresh homemade pastas and meatballs of all types,” the chef said. “Veal, lobster soups, chopped salads, and fine desserts, plus gourmet rustic food, cooked gourmet-style and done with a lot of fresh ingredients, vinegars, and bright citrus flavors. Food that is sharp to the palate and has many levels of flavor. So basically, all the dishes on my menus are filled with my favorite things [laughs].”
Marble’s signature dishes include the spectacular Seafood Plateau; Grilled Colorado Lamb Chops with mint aioli; King Veal Chop Valdostano, which is topped with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and a Marsala wine sauce; and an Executive Sirloin for two a piece of reserve-cut beef that has been aged for at least 38 days.
House-made desserts include an Almond Napoleon, Warm Chocolate Lava Cake, and fresh Italian Cheesecake. Signature cocktails include the Margarita Verde, finished with cucumber, cilantro, basil, and jalapeño puree; the Marble Cosmo, made with elderflower liqueur, lime, and white cranberry juice; and the Marble Fusion, a concoction of the restaurant’s own pineapple-infused clementine vodka and served on the rocks or martini style. Still, Marble’s expansive wine list is one of its most impressive features.
“Some of our favorites,” said the owners, “include an Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon, which features notes of currant, blackberry, and cherry, and our Abstract Blend, which pulls you in with notes of blueberry, black fig, blood flied strawberry, and hints of musk and rhubarb.” December 31 revelers can opt to pop the cork in uniquely extravagant style with Louis Roederer, Champagne Brut Cristal ‘07 at a mere $450 (though a variety of bubbly is available).
The Marble Group is looking forward to serving these varieties and a whole lot more over the year’s end. “We have had a very positive response these past few months,” the owners said, “and we are looking forward to further introducing ourselves to the neighborhood over the holidays.”
355 West 14th Street, Manhattan
212.255.9100 / marbledowntown.com