By John Meyer
Italian restaurants in Brooklyn are as ubiquitous as knockoff Pradas in Chinatown. Marco Polo Ristorante in Carroll Gardens is the real deal. After emigrating from Italy 35 years ago, Joe Chirico opened Marco Polo Ristorante which has since remained a staple of Brooklyn. In mid-2012 Joe passed the reigns on to his very capable son Marco the 24 year old graduate of Johnson & Wales culinary school. Marco has brought a fresh perspective to the venerated restaurant’s physical space as well as updating and modernizing the menu. Marco has managed to take the best of the past and combine it with an influence of modern haute cuisine. The eatery’s renovations better reflect the influx of the new Carroll Gardens residents. While Marco Polo has always been a great place for a family celebration or a quick drink at the bar across from the cozy fireplace, the dining area has been opened up with a skylight. The old world charm and hospitality that is synonymous with Italian cooking is very much front and center at Marco Polo. Joe makes it a point to visit each table to chat while the wait staff is friendly, knowledgeable and attentive.
Not to be missed is the extensive selection of wines housed in a beautiful wine cabinet. Red or white Meat or fish they have a wine that will perfectly complement your entrée. Marco provided an amazing interpretation of some Italian staples. Rather than bread and olive oil and update is presented with an option of garlic hummus. The Oysters Rockefeller were served with mozzarella cheese and spinach a departure from the traditional recipe they were delicious if not a little heavy on the cheese for a starter. One highlight
of the meal was the tableside preparation of the fettuccine Al Vin Russo; freshly made red wine- infused fettuccine tossed table side in a large half- hollowed out parmesan wheel. Artichokes always one of my favorites; I now have a great new way to enjoy artichokes…. fried in olive oil with a sprinkling of seasoning they make a crispy yet hardy side dish. The Rack of Lamb with fingerling potatoes were great and the lamb was cooked perfectly pink and delicious. The other highlight of the meal was the classic grilled Branzini! It was delightfully crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside prepared with Italian herbs and olive oil. Before you bid ciao for the night be sure to taste the delightfully light and airy Tiramisuas well as the authentic Italian cookies and pastries and excellent choice to be tried is the chocolate lava cake. A lovely surprise ending to the meal was Chef Marco’s interpretation of Limón cello substituting sweet oranges for the traditional lemon. •
Marco Polo Ristorante
345 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231