‘Watts for Dinner’: Café de Marco brings it’s ‘A’ game

Will Watts

Our next dining destination is a historical landmark with history-in-the-making flavors, Café de Marco.

The restaurant’s building was the original quarters for the chamber maids employed by the historic Old Marco Inn, located just a few yards away, according to the business’ website. “In the early 1900s the Inn functioned as a ‘bed & breakfast,’ and the maids would simply walk to work from our building.”

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Since 1983, it’s been the home of Café de Marco, and its nearly as popular owner/operator Sandy S. Franchino.

Things got off to a most appetizing start with the “Shrimp Lenny,” three large shrimp, stuffed with surimi crab, wrapped in bacon and topped with hollandaise sauce. I agreed to share this with a friend, and since there were only three, I performed surgery on the last one to avoid a fight over who gets it.

I also sampled the lobster bisque. Typically, I’m not a fan; but this was the best bisque I’ve ever had; loaded with a cheesy goodness and bits of lobster. I may have two bowls next time.

My partner in dine had the “Fresh Catch de Marco,” which on this day was tripletail. This dish was baked with mushrooms, seasoned shallots, garlic butter and topped with breadcrumbs. It was served with mashed potatoes.

This dish was cooked to perfection. The whole dish was utterly amazing.

I had the vegetarian delight. Why, you ask? Because I appreciate and want to bring attention to the fact that Café de Marco takes care of our vegetarian friends. And this was no half effort. This was perhaps the best vegetarian dish I’ve had on Marco, and one of the top tier Marco dishes, even when comparing it to meatier contenders.

For dessert, my dining companion had the Italian ricotta cheesecake, “Sandy's grandmother's original recipe is sure to top off your evening’s dining experience,” read the menu. When he ordered it, the waiter whole-heartedly approved.

I had the “Café Puff,” almond praline ice cream rolled in chocolate cookie crumbs, inside a pastry puff shell and topped with whipped cream, Bailey's chocolate sauce and graham cracker crumbs.

First and foremost, this dish is HUGE! It could feed at least three people for dessert. I did not finish it. There was no way, unless winning a prize was involved.

The ice cream was amazing on its own. The chocolate sauce is decadent. And covers the giant ball of ice cream, which is covered in whip cream.

When it arrived at the table, it and I drew stares. Even with assistance, I could not finish it. Not even close.

Café de Marco is the perfect night at the symphony of food. The restaurant earns top marks from me. I guess you don’t stay in business nearly four decades without knowing your stuff.  

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If you go

Cafe de Marco

  • 244 Royal Palm Drive, Marco Island
  • 239-394-6262
  • cafedemarco.com