A recent trip had me in the Chicago exurbs in a township with the unfortunate name of McHenry. I found myself throwing darts at restaurant names and ended up at Marzino’s for my evening repast.
Marzano’s is justifiably proud of their Italian brick oven and their certified piazzolo. The oven is 1000 degrees of crust crisping glory and it is certified for the goal of making Napoli pizza. With the sole purpose of melting cheese and mildly burning crust its Naples roots are eminently suited to its task.
I decided to start with the mussels in a diablo sauce. The shellfish were sweet and well cooked and came in a portion that was large enough to share. I chose not to! The sauce was only mildly spicy and a bit one note. Of course, that one note was smoked pancetta so it is hard to complain about that! The dish was very successful with good balance between spicy and savory and sweet.
I was a little surprised not to be offered either a small shellfish fork or a bowl for the mussel shells.
With all that money and effort invested in a brick oven it seemed only right to try the pizza. I chose the prosciutto with arugula and olive oil. The crust was perfectly cooked, mildly blackened and the right amount of chewy. I think it needed a little bit of something, perhaps a different yeast balance because it did not bubble like I remember the pizzas in Italy doing.
The combination was good but not great and left me searching for just a bit more of something so I asked the waitress for some balsamic vinegar to go with the pizza.
“I am not sure we have that,” she said sadly.
This is an Italian restaurant isn’t it? I asked her to check with the chef and indeed she was back shortly with a cruet of balsamic. It added a bit of something to the pizza that I was looking for…
The prices were reasonable with entrees between $7 and $20 with some kid friendly options. There were pizzas, some interesting pastas and some fish and meat dishes. The service was attentive and considerate if a bit untrained. I don’t think an empty glass was ever removed from my table but dirty dishes were bussed away quickly.
If you go to Marzano’s expecting rapturous Italian delights you may be a bit disappointed but the food is solid, the portions are generous and everything arrived at the table well cooked and in a timely fashion . For a night out with family on a special occasion it will serve perfectly well.
For an anniversary or romantic evening you may want to keep looking.