Thursday, May 30

Two Seats at Mario's Table

On a lovely Friday evening, the BF and I ventured to the Gold Coast to try an Italian restaurant that was new to us. Located on the corner of Dearborn and Goethe, in the ground  level of a residential building, is Mario's Table. Mario's has been around for 18 years but recently re-branded and re-designed their menu and space. To be honest, we'd never heard of the place so we went in with an empty slate.

The restaurant itself is not too large, but felt warm and inviting upon arrival. However, when we showed up, the hostess was M.I.A. and when she did surface, she didn't have our reservation. Luckily, there was still an available table but we were seated quite close to our surrounding diners.

Since we weren't too hungry, we planned to split a salad and entree and call it a night. The salad we chose was what I can only refer to as "The Hungry Man's Salad". Mario's Salad was gigantically portioned and included romaine, huge pieces of provolone and fontinella cheese, salami, pepperoncini, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and roasted red peppers. It was basically a meal in itself and I really appreciated the generous portion of meat and cheese. The balsamic dressing was barely noticeable but it was OK since there were so many flavors in the salad ingredients.

Mario's Salad
For our main course, we planned to order one pasta dish to share, but were quickly told we had to try more than one. The BF and I each picked one pasta entree for carb-loading purposes. Never one to pass up a heaping plate of meaty, cheesy, pasta, he chose the Baked Cavatelli with Sausage. I wasn't a fan of the pasta due to its mealy texture, but it was a hit with him. I thought the texture was due to it being homemade, but when I asked our server, she explained that none of Mario's pastas are homemade. It's always nice to see one or two fresh pastas on the menu, but it didn't seem like their style. I could have done with a little less cheese, but it was nice to see many slices of Italian sausage on top.

Baked Cavatelli with Sausage
The second pasta dish was recommended to us by our server and was quite an interesting combination of flavors. The Tortellini Jambalaya featured cheese tortellini tossed in a spicy marinara with shrimp, chicken and cajun sausage. I really liked the spiciness of the sauce as it had the perfect level of heat. Additionally, the dish included several jumbo shrimp and a healthy portion of chicken and sausage. It was a great change from your typical Italian pasta dish.

Tortellini Jambalaya
We were nowhere near hungry after dinner, but again, we were suckered into trying not one, but two, decadent desserts. It was our lucky night because the BF and I again got to choose a dish we each wanted. I went with the Chocolate Thunder triple fudge cake with a scoop of salted caramel gelato. Although the cake isn't made in-house, it was still tasty (of course it was, it's chocolate cake). Both of us couldn't stop taking scoop after scoop of that velvety cake and caramel gelato!

Chocolate Thunder
For his dessert choice, the BF opted for the tiramisu that is made in-house from Mario's mother's recipe. This was a nice contrast from the heavy chocolatey cake as it was light-as-air and only slightly sweet. You could tell this was homemade and we couldn't get enough!

Homemade Tiramisu
Overall, we had a pleasant experience at Mario's, made even better by the service we received. We were made to feel like we were dining with friends and it was a nice casual way to end our week. Although there were a few service issues when we walked in, our server and the manager made up for it. While I don't think Mario's is the best Italian in the city, nor do I think it will be my go-to, they do have some quality dishes worth trying if you're in the Gold Coast area. Mario's Table gets 3.5 stars for their approachable menu and atmosphere, creative dishes and that homemade tiramisu!

Mario's Table
www.mariosgoldcoast.com
21 W. Goethe, Chicago, IL 60610
Mario's Gold Coast Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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