Marea, the plush Italian seafood restaurant on Central Park South, reopened last fall with subtle renovations to repair flood damage. Now the restaurant is embarking on a bigger change, joining another of New York’s premier restaurant groups to expand what it calls “the Marea brand” worldwide.
Marea’s owner, Altamarea Group, founded by Ahmass Fakahany, has entered into a partnership with Major Food Group — owned by Jeff Zalaznick, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, whose portfolio includes Carbone, Torrisi and Parm — to open Marea restaurants in other cities in the United States and abroad. The deal was reported Thursday by Bloomberg News.
Major Food will not be involved in the existing Marea in Manhattan or the outpost to open this spring in Beverly Hills, Calif. Altamarea Group retains full ownership of those, though their style and substance were certainly a deciding factor in the new arrangement.
“Marea is a brand we have always loved,” Mr. Zalaznick said. “We’re excited to bring it into the fold and expand it into the larger world.”
It took about a year of back-and-forth to cement the partnership, which so far involves only future Marea restaurants. Neither group would discuss finances, but both said Miami was a likely first destination, citing Major Food Group’s established presence there.
“We’ve had requests from customers to open in Miami,” Mr. Fakahany said. “This will permit us to engage in marketing across both companies,” sharing expertise, customer lists, promotions and the like. “It’s a win-win,” he said.
Major Food Group’s footprint can be found in 11 cities, including Dallas and Doha, most notably with locations of Carbone, its popular upscale red-sauce joints. Altamarea already has restaurants in eight cities around the world. They’re as diverse as 53, an Asian restaurant in Manhattan, RSVP for French in Dubai, a branch of Morini with Italian cooking in Istanbul, and Mohalla for Indian food in Saudi Arabia.
Marea opened in 2009 in the space formerly occupied by San Domenico, the New York extension of a Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name in Imola, Italy. San Domenico was the restaurateur Tony May’s effort to prove that Italian food could be just as esteemed and elegant as French.
Marea, dedicated to meticulously wrought pasta and seafood, has successfully maintained that idea, with its dollops of sea urchin, fresh langoustines and sea scallops with black truffles, accompanied by fine Super Tuscan wines.
Mr. Zalaznick is on board with all that. “For us it’s the beginning of an evolution,” he said. “We’re looking at bringing other legacy brands into our company.”