Inside: Marcella's Ristorante
Upscale Italian eatery embraces art of sharing
Marcella’s Ristorante’s motto -- “Where plates are passed and flavors shared,” displayed prominently on the Italian restaurant’s Web site -- pretty much explains it all.
The pizzeria and wine bar, located on High Street in the middle of the Short North — with another location at Polaris Fashion Place — has built a distinct dining experience, featuring a “small plate” menu and homemade Italian cuisine, pretty much bringing a piece of traditional Italy to central Ohio.
A part of the Cameron Mitchell Restaurants juggernaut, Marcella’s opened in the spring of ’07, immediately packing out the small pizzeria throughout the weekend. Many months later, Marcella’s is receiving record attendance, and there’s been talk about expanding to cities such as Chicago and New York.
Food: The menu largely features Marcella’s famous flatbread pizzas ($11 or $12). There also are a wide range of pasta selections including the fan favorite Fettuccine & Meatball, a mixture of veal beef, ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, seasonings and a meatball brazed in a house tomato sauce.
Appetizers range from the $3 olive plates to an extensive cheese list and hot small plates, running between $6 and $8, featuring the homemade Sweet Italian Sausage, served with warm peppernota, the house sauce and goat cheese.
Libations: Marcella’s has a bar that might rival any in the city. It’s stacked with 50 different Italian wines, including a special house Pinot grigio made especially for Marcella’s in Italy, along with white and red house sangrias.
Décor: The long interior at the High Street location sports an intimate setup with close tables, a tan and brown, slightly darkened color scheme and gold lighting. The front features tall bar-style chairs around raised tables in an opened window, where you could literally shake hands with someone walking along the sidewalk while you eat. The small space looks a bit cavernous when empty, but come nightfall that’s definitely not the case.
Service: Patience is a virtue you’re definitely going to need if dining at Marcella’s. The restaurant’s continued popularity puts the usual wait time for a table at about half an hour -- maybe more. The wait staff is pretty sufficient; however, the service does tend to head downhill during the busier weekend nights. The casual atmosphere also extends to the waiters, which, though always bubbly, sometimes puts a damper on the professionalism.
Crowd: The trendy dive caters to a pretty eclectic clientele featuring college students, young professionals and the mature, suited crowd. The smaller portions keep costs down, making the high-class menu pretty accessible for those from all different walks of life.
Specials: Marcella’s offers a host of discounts during the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Happy Hour every weekday. During those two hours gourmet pizzas are only $4, and the drink menu offers $2 beers and Sangrias, $3 glasses of wine and $4 Cosmos and Manhattans. Check out the Web site for a full list of Happy Hour specials.
Insider Tip: Be sure to remember the “small plate” motto. If you’re looking to fill up, the best bet is to bring a few friends and order two or three menu items apiece to share. Also, each wine comes served as a “quartino” (one-third of a bottle), “mezzolitro” (half bottle) or “litro” (full bottle), which could be good to know when thinking about buying for more than one.
Bottom Line: Marcella’s offers a laid-back atmosphere but somehow couples that with a pretty upscale and trendy menu, made accessible through its small-plates mantra, which in turn means smaller prices.
Latest in Entertainment