Marco's Restaurant, in a rehabbed Victorian house on Reynolds Street, serves Mexican and Italian specialties. Although this sounded like an odd pairing of cuisine types (or maybe in spite of it), we were eager to give it a try.
We started with barbecued oysters, a Marco's specialty and recommended by another diner. They came scorching hot to the table, cooked perfectly, still juicy, with a mild but delicious barbecue sauce on top. Once we had eaten up all the oysters, we dipped our bread in the leftover, juicy sauce.
My companion and I each ordered one of the five-course meals; I from the Mexican side and he the Italian. With both come soup, salad, appetizer, entree and dessert.
First came the soups, a Mexican chicken noodle, and an Italian vegetable beef. The chicken noodle soup was a bit bland, while the vegetable beef was very good.
My second course was a mini-tostada: a crisp corn tortilla topped with spicy chorizo beans, lettuce, homemade salsa and Mexican white cheese. It was very good; flavorful, a bit spicy with a nice crunch.
My partner's appetizer (antipasti) consisted of salami and cheese. The meat was fine, but not great, and the cheese was rather bland.
Next came salads. They were not out of the ordinary, but very fresh, with romaine lettuce, carrots and a bit of purple cabbage. The house Italian dressing was a bit heavy on the oregano, but nonetheless good.
We then waited about 15 minutes between our salad and entree course. Although the service up to this point had been smooth, attentive and not rushed, this seemed a bit long to wait.
Entrees arrived and were piping hot. I had Marco's Special Fajita: A large plate filled with Spanish rice, refried beans, the quickly but perfectly cooked strips of fajita beef, red and green bell peppers and onion. The beef strips were very good; seasoned well and tender. There wasn't a lot of it, though. The peppers and onions were perfectly cooked.
My friend had Manicotti alla Companese - manicotti filled with ricotta, smothered in marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella and baked. The tomato sauce balanced the rich cheeses; the noodles stood up to baking. It could easily satisfy a hankering for traditional American-Italian food.
Desserts were Italian red velvet cake that was dense and delicious, not too sweet, and a slice of coffee cheesecake that was also good.
My dinner cost $17.95; my companion's $15.95. This is an outstanding deal.
Overall, Marco's is a delightful place for drinks and appetizers outside, sandwiches for lunch or a full five-course dinner inside the peaceful Victorian house. It would be a great place for a private party.
THE EATERY: Marco's Restaurant, 1024 Reynolds St.
PHONE: (706) 826-1880
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
RATING: *** 1/2 out of *****
Jenny Brule has a degree in the culinary arts and has written for several magazines, including Cooking Light. If you have any food or wine-related tips for her, e-mail Brule@knology.net