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Marco's serves up Italian flavor

August 13, 2010

WILLAMSPORT-- Marco's NY Pizza and Restaurant is tucked in the Milestone Plaza in Williamsport,  where the old Deli-licious used to be. Pap Ricka and I recently wandered in on a weeknight to check it out.

The layout of the restaurant is much the same as it was, with a counter and cash register in the room on the right and the dining room in the room on the left. But what you notice when you walk in is the incredible smell of Italian food. We immediately started salivating.

Orders are placed at the counter and then patrons seat themselves. The menu includes a variety of pizza options including both Sicilian and New York-style, specialty pizzas (meat lover's, Hawaiian and white to name a few,) pizza by the slice, strombolis and calzones. Pizzas range from $7.95 to $13.95 for a small, up to $19.95 for a 16-inch stuffed pizza.

There are also a number of subs, both hot and cold, (most were $5 for a small and $6 for a large), appetizers and salads. Pap had eaten a salad for lunch and was hungry. I am always hungry, so we skipped the pizzas and subs and went for the entrees.

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The entrees included spaghetti and fettuccine in all the usual ways, manicotti, ravioli, baked ziti and lasagna. The cost ranged from $8.95 to $12.95. My eyes lit up when I saw eggplant parmigiana, my favorite of Italian dishes.

Pap was just about to place his order when he looked in the display case where the pizzas-by-the-slice were sitting.

"What is that?" he asked in a respectful tone.

"That," replied our attendant,"is the stuffed pizza."

"I want that -- two slices -- and a Greek salad," Pap said.

Our attendant faintly raised an eyebrow at the amount of food and placed the order.

We sat in the dining room, which was full of tables and chairs with plastic checked tablecloths. Everything looked clean and tidy, but utilitarian. There was nothing romantic or quaint. Country music from a local radio station played on the sound system. I guess I had hoped from the amazing smells and the Italian accent of our attendant, that there would be candles stuck in chianti bottles and opera music, but alas, it was not to be.

It seemed we had barely sat down when our salads arrived along with a basket of warm bread and butter. My side salad was large and very fresh with crispy romaine lettuce, cucumber, onion, quartered grape tomatoes and two kinds of olives. I ordered the house dressing, which was a red wine vinaigrette served on the side. Pap's Greek salad was similar, except it was huge and covered with feta cheese. He only managed to eat about half of it.

While we were still eating our salads, Pap's pizza slices were served. The pizza had both a top and bottom crust that were thin and crispy. Inside, were layers of bacon, ham, pepperoni and sausage with plenty of mozzarella. It came with a small container of marinara sauce for dipping. I made Pap cut off a bite for me before it was all gone. It was very tasty and a unusual presentation. The ingredients stayed in place so that we tasted all of them in each bite. It was hearty and delicious.

We had to wait a bit longer for my eggplant to come. But what joy when it did. The waiter set down a gigantic plate of eggplant with a mound of spaghetti on the side.

The eggplant was lightly battered -- very lightly so that eggplant showed through the mere dusting of flour. It was very soft inside but the batter retained a delicious crunch even though it was light. I love eggplant parmigiana when you can really taste the eggplant and not just the batter or the sauce. This had a wonderful flavor.

The marinara sauce was good and there was a very healthy layer of mozzarella over it all. I did manage to eat a bit of the spaghetti, which was cooked well with a good amount of sauce on it. (The spaghetti was also not wet. I hate it when the noodles are not drained thoroughly and the sauce sits on top while the pasta water pools underneath.) Still, I brought home nearly half my order.

As we left, I noticed the sign advertising fresh cannolis. Not that either of us had room for dessert, but I would love to taste them. Next time.

Marco's would be a great place to take the family for dinner.  It has something for everyone including many selections that would appeal to children. And vegetarians will find plenty of choices, too, as there are vegetarian options in the entrees, subs, strombolis and, of course, pizza.

By Anne Chovey

Special to The Herald-Mail

Restaurant review

Marco's NY Pizza and Restaurant 3 (out of 5)

Food: 3 1/2

Service:  2

Ambiance:  2  1/2

Value : 4

Address: 20 Milestone Terrace, Williamsport

Phone: 301-223-8820

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and closed Sunday

Style:  Italian, subs and pizza

Range: Pasta entrees from $7.50 to $12.95; Pizza $7.95 to $19.95.

Reservations: No reservation needed

Bathrooms: There was one restroom serving both men and women. It was large and clean.

Parking and handicapped accessibility:  There is parking in front of the restaurant and a number of spaces for the plaza. I don't think parking would be difficult unless the restaurant was jam-packed.  As much of the business is take-out, parking should not be an issue. The restaurant was totally accessible.

Website: Marco's does not have a website, Facebook or MySpace pages.

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