What a pleasure. We came to the new Marco Ristorante Italiano in Warner Robins expecting to spend about 90 minutes on a nice meal. Instead, we chose to stay for about three and a half hours thoroughly enjoying ourselves, our waitstaff and our meal.
In the former location of Johnny Corrino’s on Watson Boulevard, Marco has completely redesigned the inside but wisely kept the charming Italian exterior. Inside, there is a main dining area with a large dividable private dining room, a very private dining area for 10 in the wine cellar, a multipurpose area for dining and/or socializing, and a large but cozy bar area. There’s even an area with seating for 10 to view what’s going on in the kitchen.
Our evening began with our Italian waiter (not server -- there’s a difference) greeting us by name from our reservation and helping us select our menu for the night. Once we told him our preferences (one of us likes seafood, the other likes to eat beef when dining out), he took our drink orders and returned with an amuse-bouche of bacon-wrapped scallops and a small glass of prosecco.
We had a difficult time choosing between steak Diane finished tableside and the 14-ounce dry aged New York strip, at $44 and $54 respectively. Eduardo described each to perfection but his eyes practically sparkled as he told how he would prepare the steak Diane in front of us.
If the prices are making you nervous, note that Eduardo suggested without hesitation that we split the pasta appetizer. As only exceptional waitstaff can, our waiter had sized us up without judgment and knew how to make us comfortable and happy. We shared a pumpkin gnocchi in a pistachio pesto, perfect on a chilly winter night.
The tableside preparation of the steak Diane was heavenly, with several other diners sniffing the air as it cooked. We asked Eduardo to narrate in Italian, so we could figure out what he was saying as he added each ingredient, saving us $2,000 in airfare to Italy.
The snapper filet with the scallops was the only disappointment of the evening, but when I left half of it uneaten, Eduardo came back to tell us the chef had decided then and there to remove that item from the menu. Hopefully, future diners will find the scallops with a better partner than the snapper.
If the price still makes you nervous, try them Monday through Thursday in the bar area for two-for-one deals. We will have to come again to try their thin crust pizza and piatinni (Italian snacks like tuna carpaccio and arancini). They also are beginning cooking lessons in January, so check the website for information on that.
Next time you’re about to go to one of the chain restaurants in Warner Robins and wait for an hour to be seated, make a reservation at Marco instead. For a little extra money, you will eat sooner, eat better and enjoy life more.
Marco Ristorante Italiano
Address: 2707 Watson Blvd., Warner Robins
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-close Monday-Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 100
Price range: $14-$48
Rating: 4 stars