You know what qualifies me to be a restaurant critic? I have taste buds and an opinion. There’s really not much more required than that, in my humble opinion (see me using my opinion all willy nilly wherever I like?!)
Recently my dear husband, who is a user and contributor to a little known website called yelp! found this great Italian place called Marino’s within walking distance from our home. One night we went there for dinner rather than the fancy and expensive hipster hangout I usually favor, Osteria Mozza, and our lives were changed forever.
When we walked in the owner greeted us, shook our hands, led us to a table and made us feel quite at home in his restaurant. The wait staff is European style – they’re professional waiters, seemingly Italian, who know everything about the food and the wine and aren’t working on acting careers on the side. (I’m not knocking the actor/waiter combination. I did it myself for years. But because I did it for years I know that no actor ever really considers him/herself a professional waiter. And at times our level of effort reflects that. Just sayin’.)
Then there’s the food. It is the best Italian food I’ve ever put into my mouth. I’m not exaggerating. It’s fresh and tasty and they have pastas there I’d never heard of before. Full disclosure, I haven’t been to Italy, but this stuff is created by people from Italy so it counts as authentic. In my opinion.
After we’d eaten there once we started going regularly. We took friends, we took relatives, we’ve taken all but the kitchen sink there (because I imagine they have their own).
The decor is old school and there’s a lot of pink. Menu items are prepared and placed in a display case by the door. There are white lace curtains on the windows and the effect is… fabulous. You could be living in any era when you’re in there. It’s really hard to leave.
Best of all, and this is something you don’t really get at other restaurants, the owner now greets us with hugs every time we show up there. It’s like we’re old friends, or family he’s actually happy to see. He’s very friendly and he comes to the table throughout dinner to tell jokes and stories about famous guests who’ve dined there and he makes sure that everything is to our liking. Unless we’re in the middle of a discussion. He also knows when to give us our privacy.
If you live in Los Angeles you probably shouldn’t go there. I don’t want to have trouble getting a table, it’s not a very large restaurant. But if you’re visiting from out of town we will absolutely take you there. You’ll love it.