In the evening rain, the Perelman Center shimmers like a sturgeon. In the architectural hodgepodge of the former World Trade Center — hard by Santiago Calatrava’s bony Oculus, just opposite Michael Arad’s 9/11 memorial — you can’t miss it, paneled in Portuguese marble whose natural striations seem to be wriggling their way upstream. Inside are three separate theaters, which will play host this season to Laurence Fishburne’s one-man show, the New York premiere of an opera about the suicide of a Chinese American army private, and, naturally, a ballroom reimagining of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.

The Perelman Performing Arts Center, so-called thanks to a $75 million gift by the billionaire Ron Perelman, is, by any measure, a major addition to the arts, like a Shed South, with a little less of the craven capitalism of Hudson Yards. The aim of rebuilding terrorism-scarred downtown is nobler than that of working up a new neighborhood to plump with luxury residences, even if the result will likely be much the same. Hudson Yards has José Andrés; here, Metropolis by Marcus Samuelsson opened in November, the latest “love letter to New York.”

If Metropolis loves New York, will New York love Metropolis? I’m not sure. The restaurant hasn’t attracted the same buzz as, say, Samuelsson’s Hav & Mar or the way Red Rooster did back in 2010. On a pair of visits, the dining room’s 135 seats were always at least half-full, but despite a menu that ranges across communities and boroughs — “Flushing-style” oysters with XO sauce, seared duck with Oaxacan mole, Korean Caribbean oxtail — Metropolis, as designed by David Rockwell, has the uncanny feel of precisely nowhere. The long space, set back in the PAC lobby, beneath a telescoping, sculptural wooden ceiling, is redolent of international airport lounge. On one wall, an artwork depicts a topographically correct New York coastline in mother-of-pearl buttons. Bathrooms are identified by an illuminated, pictographic toilet. A glass-fronted corridor at the back is faced with lounge chairs to admire a runway slice of outside view.

The menu doesn’t always dispel the feeling. Much of it leans snacky, albeit in a dressed-up way: pigs in a blanket (rechristened “blanketed franks”), Iberified with Basque chistorra and patatas bravas sauce; bar-nosh fried pickles recast with olives and cornichons and a dip of everything-dusted mayo; four fingers of smoked hamachi to be piled with cabbage slaw and crema into tacos, an odd deli-barrio hybrid. The real point seems to be a tableside reveal that sends a cloud of savory smoke rising. “The hamachi taco is doing really well on social media,” our waiter told us.

“Vegas maximalism,” declared a friend, though Metropolis is hardly the only New York establishment practicing that. There are moments where it works: It’s a gimmick to crank a rich slurry of shrimp heads and lime onto shrimp toast from a golden grinder held above, but there’s no denying the deep, satisfying shrimpiness it provides.

Photo: Hugo Yu.

Photo: Hugo Yu.

Ed Tinoco, a New Yorker repatriated after a long stint in Chicago overseeing one of Grant Achatz’s temples to gonzo gastronomy, Next, runs the kitchen. Onika Brown, formerly of Per Se, handles desserts. Their credentials are impeccable, and often, so is their cooking. I loved the long-stewed oxtail, served in a flower-painted casserole dish over coconut rice, so sweet with iron and baking spice that I broke my usual rule and ordered it twice. I was similarly enamored of rare seared duck, dry-aged two weeks, served with a mole that Tinoco has been tending and shepherding for four years. Other dishes could have used more of that obsessive focus. Too many felt like bits of theater themselves. Some were drama (whole branzino served, banchan style, with too many extraneous bits and sides to fit into tiny lettuce cups). Others were comedy (around half the cocktail list, maybe the only place in New York to find vodka infused with Murray’s cheddar, put to work in a lime-green, carbonated appletini). Like all interactive theater, they offered diminishing returns.

It may be the theater where Samuelsson is most present. He acts, these days, more as a producer and ringmaster of other talent: The Samuelsson Group runs 15 restaurants around the world, a number of philanthropic initiatives, a Bahamian food festival, an accelerator fund for Black-owned businesses. Some are worthy; some are Jersey (Marcus Live! Bar and Grille, in the beleaguered American Dream megamall). Metropolis by Marcus Samuelsson, as he renders it, manages to be both. He’s married art to the Big Apple, and wound up with the big, cheesy appletini.

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