A MILONGUERA'S CHOW GUIDE: December 3, 2006
Restaurant: Marcelo Ristorante, Cocina Italiana
Address: Alicia M. de Justo 1140, Puerto Madero
I believe in signs and symbols. I read my horoscope in the Sunday supplement and my fortune from Chinese fortune cookies. I try to decorate my home according to the tenets of feng shui, and will occasionally say a novena to the St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases, when I'm especially desperate. Given my touchy-feely-California grooviness, how could I consider the fact that one of my favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires and my boyfriend share the same name to be a mere coincidence? Impossible! It's a sign.
Oh, I could dedicate a whole blog to extol the virtues of Marcelo The Boyfriend, but then you'd have to throw up. Instead, I will sing the praises of Marcelo The Restaurant.
Marcelo Piegari, son of Daddy Piegari (who owns the famous "Piegari" restaurant) and long-lost younger and shorter cousin to Tom Selleck, has made his mark on the restaurant scene of BA. Having eaten at his father's more formal and more expensive restaurant located in the underpass near the Four Seasons downtown, which is also home to Mirasol and other such high-priced and high-brow restaurants, Piegari Junior blows his dad out of the water. True, Piegari Senior has established a fine Italian restaurant for those who like a little more intimacy with dark wood paneling and brass, but I believe Marcelo and his co-conspirator, Adolfo Astigarraga have founded a fine restaurant known for their excellent and abundant Italian cuisine and outstanding service at a price that's hard to beat. In fact, you'll find Marcelo taking care of his baby almost every night. On especially busy nights, you may even find him playing both maitre'd AND parking attendant.
Having burned what seemed to be a few hundred calories on the dance floor at El Beso on Thursday night, the Tango Goddess was sweaty and ready to eat. Our party of 3 shared the following: a salad with lettuce, tomato, and onion, melanzane parmigiana, pizza margherita, taglionlini bolognesa, and an amaretto ice cream for dessert. First, the appetizers. I wasn't really in the mood for a salad, but it looked so fresh that I had to give in. Who would of thought of asking for the salad ingredients to be cut julienne-style would make eating salad so much more fun and easier to eat? Thanks to our friend for the tip. The melanzane/eggplant parm rocked, even though I thought I was ordering our regular melanzane a la siciliana, which also rocks the house, by the way. The eggplant a la siciliana is chopped and marinated, and comes without the cheese. The pizza, your basic cheese pizza with the usual extra chopped garlic, was a revelation. I have to say now that I have found pizza paraiso. Dare I say it is better that Casa Mia's pie? YES! It had a thin crust, with just the right amount of cheese for it to be slightly goopy, but not messy. A plus for when you're dressed up.
The utter lightness of the pizza allowed me to indulge in my other Marcelo fave: pasta with meat sauce. Come on. It's pasta with meat sauce. How pedestrian! Seriously, folks, it's absolutely delicious. We always choose the thinnest possible pasta because, according to Marcelo The Boyfriend, it holds the sauce better. I happen to disagree. I mean, what about penne or any other pasta with a hole? But, hey, who is an Asian American to argue with an Italian? The pasta is never over-cooked here, thank goodness, or there would be hell to pay. The meat sauce is TO DIE. The difference, I think, is the fact that you can see the chunks of meat in the sauce and that it's a much more "suave" taste, not at all like the super-tomato-ey red bolognese sauce I'm used to. The order of pasta was enough for the three of us!
Their desserts are wonderful, too. The amaretto dessert topped with cream was sinful, but I have also had their chocolate volcano which is always a good choice, especially when you need a chocolate fix and/or are nearing that time of the month.
Atmosphere: This may not be a suitable place to take your sweetie on his or her first date with you, but it is in pretty Puerto Madero and located on the water. Unlike Piegari, this restaurant is more like a refined cafeteria with linens. This place packs 'em in during the weekends, and, therefore, gets pretty loud and crazy busy. You can even see the waiters tense up. However, everyone's usually very well-behaved-no foodfights to report-although there are the occasional rugrats who roam freely. There is a separate, closed-off space for smokers.
Service: These waiters work their butts off, and are always very polite and professional.
Bathroom: CLEAN and always stocked with soap and toilet paper!
Total damage: 3 people, including water, wine, and tea = 147 pesos. This, I believe, is a bargain, considering that the portions are big enough to share, at least between two people.
Overall: It's love, I tell you.