UPDATE: Looks like the deal is off for now, but may not be completely dead in the water. Watch this space for new developments.
Celebrity chefs and luxury hotel brands have been flooding into Shanghai throughout 2017, and now legendary New York restaurateur and chef Michael White is set to join them.
In the first quarter of 2018 he'll be opening a version of Marea, his Michelin two-star, James Beard award-winning, Zagat-touted, New York Times-lauded 'Italianate' seafood and handmade pasta restaurant. And it will be inside none other than Jing'an's Plaza 66 mall. Image via Marea
Never heard of the place? Having opened in 2009 to rave reviews, Marea (Italian for 'tide') has since earned a reputation as one of New York's most coveted reservations, beloved for White's devastatingly good handmade pastas (notably, braised octopus fusili with bone marrow, below). People literally describe the restaurant as "a living room for the Upper East Side."
Image via Marea
"We are excited to bridge Marea from New York to Shanghai — two high-energy and vibrant cities — where great food has prominence in the fabric of society,” said Altamarea Group CEO Ahmass Fakahany and Chef Michael White via a press release issued today. “We will embrace the similarities and equally respect the differences as we meet client expectations.”
Despite taking over 5,000-sq ft. of Plaza 66's third floor, Marea will seat just 85 covers, including three chic private rooms (which will no doubt make Floyd Mayweather's apartment look like a Chuck E. Cheese's). The lower seat count is a deliberate choice that "speaks to the emphasis on quality and the focus on highly personalized client attention and service."
But wait, there's more: a nightlife concept will extend upwards to the fourth floor via a spiral staircase, where the Altamarea Group will debut a more casual dining concept along with a cocktail lounge, Club W by marea.
Plaza 66 Mall in Jing'an District, image via Hang Lung Properties.
Considering White's track record elsewhere in New York, the fondly thought of Osteria Morini and stylish French bistro Vaucluse to name but a few, we're sure Marea Shanghai will be a polished affair. But inside Plaza 66? Sure it's a nice mall, but it's not exactly comparable to Central Park South, or even The Bund, or the romantic tree-lined streets of the former French Concession.
But then again, if they manage to make Marea Shanghai even half as good as the New York version, it'll still be a damn great place to eat dinner. This one's getting filed under restaurant openings that can't come soon enough.
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