You already know that Marco Island has a lot of restaurants serving Italian food, at least nine we know of, not counting some places that offer Italian dishes but don't specialize in it.
Now comes the island's newest Italian eatery, which has very deep roots on Marco. It's La Piazza, whose owners, Franco Cicchelli and Mario DeMartino have been in the food business here since the early 1970s.
The new place is open for business at 1000 North Collier Boulevard, in space once occupied by Casa Mia and by Fortunes before that. It's a good-looking place with three separate dining rooms, excellent table linens and lots of space between tables.
"We've been trying to find a good place for a traditional Italian restaurant on Marco for a while because we really wanted to be on Marco. And this is it, now that we've changed the interior a lot," said Mario.
The partners call their food "Italian Nostalgic," and say they're combining elegant service with a casual Italian atmosphere.
"By nostalgic, I mean veal scaloppini, veal Marsala and other classic dishes, done in the old ways."
Franco is also pleased with their decision to offer table-side service.
"It's in the tradition, such as Caesar salad, Dover sole boned at the table, flaming steak and more. And we have a very good chef, a varied wine list and a full bar."
Franco and Mario have been in the restaurant business for decades. Franco first came here in 1973 and has worked mostly for the Marriott, where we met him at Kurrents Restaurant in the hotel.
Mario was a restaurant pioneer here.
"I had the first Italian restaurant on Marco Island, Mario's, where Su's Garden is now," Mario says. That was in the early 70s.
"Then I had the Marco Lodge in Goodland. I remember when it was moved there from old Marco a couple of years before I got involved. I also had the European Market restaurant for awhile. It was where the Island Cafe is now."
La Piazza is open for early dinner for an hour, starting at 4:30 p.m., then the regular dinner menu through the evening. It's closed on Sundays until January when the restaurant will be open seven days a week.
For reservations: (239) 970-0505 or email: email@example.com.
Put some starch in the caboose, please
Most Islanders who take their clothes to a laundry don't expect much more than clean clothes. But patrons of the Professional Cleaners of Marco are also getting taken for a ride, so to speak.
We refer to Don Burnell's place at 571 W. Elkcam Circle, which this time of year seems as much a model train lovers' hangout as a dry cleaners.
Don has been adding to his seasonal display of toy trains ever year since he and his wife moved to Marco in 1996 from Creston, Il.
"It was a hit the first time I put it up here, so I did so every year. I usually start work on it around Halloween and finish just after Thanksgiving."
If you go see Don at the dry cleaners, keep your eyes peeled (what an odd expression, by the way) because you might see an important city official there, toying with the toy trains. Our confidential informants City Manager Jim Riviere even contributed one of the trains on display.
About the "eyes peeled" thing, one source claims "peeled," meaning alert or observant, was named for Sir Robert Peel, who established Britain's first organized police force in the 1820s. The cops were known as "Peelers," as in, "Keep your eyes peeled when crossing the model train tracks."