Three generations of love
New restaurant with deep Florentine roots
By Frank Angelino
Marco Martelli is seemingly everywhere at his new Marco New York restaurant in the Village. An accomplished Executive Chef (at his own Ristorante Cellini in Florence, Italy, Il Vagabondo in Manhattan and Marco Fire Island, ) he aims to pass along his familys three generations of Florentine restaurant experience.
Marcos freshly renovated 75-seat restaurant (formerly home to chef Scott Bryants Indigo) is a friendly place with Marco and wife Barbara constantly interacting with people theyve gotten to know on Fire Island and elsewhere. The chef cuts a striking figure with his dark chefs jacket.
Martelli has added attractive paintings and decorations to go along with the graceful brick archways of the space.
A bar with 16 seats suitable for dining attracts a smart crowd of men and women who sip Bellinis, Camparis, Negronis and the like.
Because I was in my mother and Fathers restaurant when I was very young, I was born into the restaurant business. I love to cook, says Marco.
Marco says he, Works with a traditional Tuscan menu following his family recipes. He is faithful to a style of cooking he refers to as tyrenno meaning expressing the land, area and culture of his native Tuscany. At the same time Marco admits that, In this country I try to do everything. The result is a good measure of Marcos creativity enriching his traditional Tuscan dishes.
The chefs style is immediately evident in the small dish of chopped tomatoes that is brought to the tables along with crusty bread. The tomatoes are enriched with white beans characteristics of Tuscan cooking.
Appetizers consist of mixed crostini, or grilled Tuscan bread topped with chicken liver pate, tomato, onion and basil, or polenta with porcini mushrooms; a very good baked tripe (cut into larger pieces than I like) with rosemary enhanced tomato sauce; and, a fritto misto, or mixed fry consisting of calamari, zucchini and shrimps, served with a spicy marinara sauce.
Gnocchi are very light in texture because Marco adds a few ounces of fresh ricotta to basis potatoes, butter and dough. My gnocchi are so soft and delicate, Marco says truthfully. I love to serve it with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Sometimes he sauces the gnocchi with a gorgonzola sauce studded with chunks of artichokes.
This is my invention, pumpkin ravioli sauced with tiny cubes of pear and shaved parmigiano cheese, Marco says. The dish works very well with a special unexpected taste of pear. The cannelloni is filled with ground meat and spinach and is a faithful rendering of Marcos grandmothers recipe. Gnudi Florentina are basically naked ravioli, just the satisfying spinach and ricotta filling served with either a light butter and sage sauce or a Florentine meat sauce.
There is innovation in Marcos homemade tagliolini pasta with a pistacchio and pesto sauce served with fava beans, asparagus and peas.
A centerpiece of the menu is Wild Boar spezzatino, which is a dish composed of pieces of the meat slowly roasted in a delicious red wine sauce laced with ginepro, or junipers. The dish is complimented with soft polenta.
Some of the other entrees are tagliata, traditional Florentine steak in a hot rosemary oil, peppercorn sauce served over arugula; a zuppa di pesce alla Viareggina, which is monkfish, langostina, mussels, clams, octopus and squid in a red broth served with Tuscan garlic bread; and Il Vero Bollito Misto, the boiled meats (pancetta beef brisket, chicken, cotechino sausage and veal tongue with a salsa verde on the side.
With colder weather Marco has some heartier dishes on the menu, such as venison, big meaty osso buco, and for dessert, panetone with cream on the bottom and chocolate on top.