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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marcello's Italian Restaurant

Source: Google Images
After enjoying the small-town big event of the Port Isabel Homecoming Parade, we decided to avoid the immense traffic jam (people wandering the street, talking, no hurry to get out of the way) by eating dinner out before heading to the big bonfire.  Marcello's Italian Restaurant is on the corner of Hwy 100 and Tarnava on the Lighthouse Square and we were parked close by...win-win situation!  I've been to Marcello's several times and have always enjoyed it so we headed in for dinner and air-conditioning. 

It is an iconic family-owned restaurant and, at this time of year, filled with locals enjoying an evening out.  I like the atmosphere, which includes background music, subdued lighting, oil lamps on the table, white linens, and cloth napkins...kind of old European in atmosphere - nothing like the chain ambiance of the Olive Garden type of Italian restaurant.  Soothingly relaxing after the blaring horns of every police car and fire engine in the area leading the parade!  We were seated at my favorite table in the restaurant - square in front of the window looking out at the lighthouse.  Perfect!

Today, being the first day out to eat all week, I enjoyed the slight delay the apparently unexpected post-parade rush caused for the waitstaff.  Our waiter was great and handled the influx with friendly aplomb, expressing appreciation for our patience.  Our food actually came out quite promptly.  We started off with the included salad (mine with a wonderfully tangy tomato vinaigrette) and a generous basket of lightly toasted Italian bread with a dipping bowl of Marinara sauce.  I was in the mood for something fairly basic so ordered whole wheat spaghetti with meatballs and Marinara.  The teen ordered their seafood lasagna.  I was afraid he would not be hungry after plowing through most of the bread basket.  (We generally eat fairly early on school nights and it was 7:40 when we got to the restaurant - he was starved.)  I tried some of his seafood lasagna and boy was it good!  It was in a white sauce and completely covered with stringy delicious cheese.  I could identify crab and some shrimp in my one bite - the teen wasn't able to identify anything else, but did declare it was very good.  It was such a generous serving that he couldn't eat it all (especially having filled up on bread and Marinara!). 

My meal was all that I could ask for in a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  Meatballs so big I could only eat one (I think there were two on the plate - under all that delicious Marinara) and a literal bowl of pasta sufficient for multiple servings.  We could have easily shared either dish.

In the past I've enjoyed their cheese ravioli in shrimp and lobster sauce - rich and decadent.  Last year when my family was here, we dined at Marcello's, and everyone loved their meal.  Good stuff - reasonably priced.  Our dinner tonight was $36 with non-alcoholic drinks and a tip.  For a nice dinner, that's a good price in my opinion.

I'm tired and pleasantly full (thankfully I only ate half the dish) and ready for bed.  The evening was so pleasant, we completely forgot about the bonfire!  We swung by on the way home and at least saw it, despite missing the actual activities...not sure what you do at a bonfire...but we were so stuffed and ready to fall into the post-pasta-induced slumbers, that we both said "okay - saw it - let's go home"...and we did.

Marcello's is a place we will go again and again...when we need a nice night out and want to stay on the Port Isabel side of the bridge.  It's definitely mangia bene!

SPI FLIP FLOP FOODIE RATING:
4 – Lip smackin’ - good quality – flip flops will definitely be parked under their table again!
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