Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
"I'm just planning on retiring and fishing every day," Chef Harold Dieterle said to me the other day when I asked him whether, after recently opening his third restaurant in six years, his end-game was to become a "hot shot chef."
His previous two restaurants, Perilla and Kin Shop, have demonstrated themselves as down to earth and free from the bandwagon-jumping and trendiness that you'd expect from an as-seen-on-TV'er. His new restaurant, The Marrow, brings his cooking closer to home.
Set in the old Paris Commune space on Bank Street and Greenwich Street, The Marrow is the third collaboration between him and co-owner Alicia Nosenzo, and his first foray into meat-centric Italian and German fare. "This is the food of my family," he says. "I have an Italian grandmother on my mother's side and a German on my father's."
The restaurant's menu is similarly divided down the middle, the left side focusing on the Famiglia Chiarelli and the left on the Familie Dieterle on the right.
"My Italian grandmoether would make it with calamari," explains Dieterle, but the Skillet-Braised Cuttlefish ($14) on the left side of the menu is essentially the same dish. "We also had a ton of baccala growing up," he says, outlining the evolution of the salt cod gnudi which come served with pine nuts, raisins, and plenty of olive oil, a nod to his Sicilian heritage. Also on the Italian side are classics like Braciole ($25), here made with brisket and served with house-ground polenta, and Vitello Tonato ($30), a play on the classic dish of veal with tuna sauce, made with veal sweetbreads and tuna belly sauce over sautéed stone bass.
On the Dieterle side, you get the heavier meat dishes. "I'm a meat lover," Dieterle told me. "Kin Shop is fun, but I'd take a good steak any day." You'll find a Grilled Wagyu Culotte Steak ($33) and a Juniper-Braised Lamb Neck (those familiar with his Kin Shop menu will notice a similarity to the Goat Massaman Curry at that restaraunt). There's also a 40-day, two pound, dry-aged, bone-in grilled ribeye steak for two ($100), and a half dozen other winter-friendly options. If you just want a taste of that ribeye funk without going all-in, they also offer potatoes fried in its fat as a side dish ($10).
"I've got one vegetarian dish on the menu," he says, describing the Roasted Whole Hen of the Woods Mushroom ($26), "because one of the investors is a vegetarian and insisted."
Even before they opened, two dishes had been talked up and photographed more than any other. The first is the restaurant's namesake. The Bone Marrow ($16) is roasted and comes covered in tongues of sea urchin roe, cubes of potato crisped up in clarified butter, a Meyer lemon aïoli, and micro celery greens, served with slices of grilled sourdough bread made in-house by pastry chef Ginger Fisher.
The other is the Duck Schnitzel ($28), served with his grandmother's quark-flavored spaetzle fried in duck fat, a cucumber-potato salad, and wolfberries stewed in cranberry juice and honey. "Okay, [my grandmother] didn't fry hers in duck fat," says Harold.
"It's crazy. Ever since opening, every single table that comes in it's schnitzel and marrow. Schnitzel and marrow."
A recent article in Boston Magazine ("Tweets, Shoots and Leaves") talked about how social media sites geared towards sharing photos and quick thoughts like Twitter and Instagram have affected food culture by creating viral hype for individual dishes at restaurants, compromising the chef's ability to define a dining experience.
Dieterle instantly identifies with this phenomenon. "It's like I don't even have a say in what my signature dish is any more," he adds, though from the smile on his face, it doesn't seem like he's complaining.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.