Review: Marco's New York Italian restaurant in Exeter
PUBLISHED: 12:29 11 April 2016
Devon Life editor Andy Cooper makes an overdue visit for lunch at a spot he should be more familiar with
I’ve never wholly understood the term ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Why should that be the case? Familiarity might breed a lot of things but contempt wouldn’t, to me, be primary among them.
How about ‘familiarity breeds missed opportunity’ as an alternative? I came up with that as I took my leave of Marco’s New York Italian restaurant in Exeter. You see, this modern, distinctive diner is but an olive’s throw from my office. Now, despite the image I like to conjure up of me editing from the luxury of a Georgian office building, sitting on a leather Chesterfield sofa, sweet sherry in one hand, quill pen in the other, the truth is quite the opposite: the Devon Life editorial team is actually parked on a so-so industrial estate near Exeter Airport.
But that means we are close to Marco’s place, tucked into the ground floor of the building housing the Hampton By Hilton Hotel and, to my shame, I have not visited this handy spot as much as I might.
So when I was invited to take our editorial team there to sample the new Marco In Minutes menu I did so with an element of guilt that I hadn’t been more often.
That’s going to change now though after a tasty, flavour-packed meal for the team and I which was served with attentive and just-the-right-side-of-speedy service.
In an era when, sadly, the concept of two-hour lunch breaks appears to have gone the way of marketing men who speak in anything less than riddles, the notion of Marco’s serving part of the menu under the brand ‘quality cuisine, quick’ is to be applauded for tapping into a need. If you’re in a hurry then you can certainly take advantage of this option and not keep the boss waiting for his strategic planning meeting because you ordered the veal.
Our party of four started with a selection including calamari fritti with spring onion and chilli, Caesar salad with anchovies and avocado plus crispy breaded button mushrooms. The fact we stopped gossiping for ten minutes and stayed silent was testament to the tastiness.
Now, for the main event and, as I bow to no man in my love of bourbon, I am afraid I somewhat greedily moved away from the speedy menu to indulge in Marco’s 10oz New Orleans Cajun steak with bourbon and currants, an intriguing combo which lived up to its top-of-the-price range billing.
The beauty of Marco’s if is you’re in a rush – like some of our fellow travellers were – then you can be in and out in under an hour but if, like us, you had time to spare (purely in the interests of research, you understand) then a little longer can be spent choosing from the main menu.
Which meant that pasta dishes such as spaghetti carbonara, salmon steak and penne arrabiata were eagerly enjoyed by my colleagues. We certainly loved our lunch and gave it the collective Devon Life thumbs up…not a badge handed out lightly!
So, Mission Marco’s means I will be back soon to enjoy lunch there and you should too.