chef mark lorusso delivers the finest in mediterranean fare
by marisa finetti
Every evening, diners at Costa di Mare savor dishes made with more than 40 kinds of fish and shellfish flown in from the Italian coast the same morning. Executive chef Mark LoRusso’s seafood savoir faire has earned him many accolades, including an invitation earlier this year to prepare a special meal at New York City’s historic James Beard House for the nation’s top food critics, editors and aficionados.
It was LoRusso’s third time cooking at the landmark Greenwich Village house alongside a handful of other chefs. He prepared multiple courses featuring a sea urchin custard with olive oil and chives, and an array of delicately prepared prawns, amberjack and palomita. LoRusso has now added that special creation to the menu so visitors to the Wynn restaurant can enjoy the same meal.
The same wine selections are also offered, including a white blend called Vinnae, selected for its harmonious pairing with butter-poached imperial langoustines and grilled octopus with olive oil-poached fennel and olives. “We slowly cook the octopus to give it its tender grill marks. There is a nice char on it but not too much, just a light touch,” LoRusso said. “The dish is combined with a little bit of olive vinaigrette, a little bit of rapini, and a pepper-based sauce, all to complement the octopus.”
The flavors take on even more dimension when accompanied by a 2014 Punta Crena Ca da Rena from Liguria (an area known as Italy’s Riviera).
“What brings these two elements together, besides that it is a marriage made in the heavens, is not just the flavor, but the unique texture of the octopus being complemented by the round texture and wild, white floral aromas of the pigato grape grown on old vines, supported by just enough acidity,” said Miklos Katona, Costa di Mare’s wine manager. “All wines chosen were made from grapes you can’t find anywhere else in Italy.”
Also on the tasting menu is risotto Sardo, made with bottarga, a brick-colored, cured fish roe that is a Sardinian favorite. It is served with a single-vineyard vermentino, Jankara Vermentino di Gallura, also from Sardinia.
Line-caught Mediterranean turbot, an exquisitely flaky white fish, was served with butter-poached brussels and Osetra caviar and, Anselmi Capitel Croce, a powerfully fresh white wine from the Veneto region.
A bright limoncello semifreddo concludes the experience, complemented with a passito from Sicily. The wine is made with moscato bianco grapes, which undergo a special drying process, producing a concentrated dessert wine with explosive aromas of exotic and candied citrus. Those enjoying this exceptional culinary journey may be forgiven for feeling as if they had been magically swept away to the Mediterranean coast for a few hours before stepping back into the desert breeze.