When George Marrone opened Aqua last year in San Francisco, he was a small fish in a very large pond, and it seemed he would quickly be devoured by the piranhas of fate and fortune. His was an upstream swim, creating an all-seafood restaurant in an ocean city that--ironically--has rejected such entries.
Locating two doors down from the 143-year-old Tadich Grill--the one seafood house San Franciscans have embraced--seemed crazy too, as was its location in a financial district that traditionally drys up at night. On top of all that, Aqua was bucking the casual trend with its upscale style and lofty prices. So, why then is it constantly up to its gills in customers each night?
Undoubtedly because the 30-year-old Marrone, who trained under Charles Palmer at River Cafe in New York and Bradley Ogden at San Francisco's Campton Place, is creating dazzling seafood dishes, such as saddle of monkfish on a pool of cumin essence with pomegranate syrup. With work like that, Marrone will inevitably become a very large fish indeed.