My wife and I had dinner here during a recent vacation stay on Marco Island. I have the Tripadvisor app on my phone, and we picked this place based on the overwhelming number of Excellent reviews. We pulled up to the front of the restaurant and were frankly a little concerned; it just doesn't look like much from the outside. But oh, how looks can deceive...
We were seated immediately (without having made reservations) and were greeted by Marty, our server. It was clear from the get-go that Marty had been doing this for a while, as he was well versed on the evening specials and on the regular menu. We heard him serve other tables, too, and he never gave a canned speech, mixing up his descriptions of the food and wine very well. Some servers these days just spit it out rapid fire, doing their best to relate everything from a memorized card or something. Not Marty.
My wife ordered the scallops and prawns in saffron sauce, and I ordered the specialty of the house, the jumbo prawns. First out were the salads, with fresh and flavorful greens and other accompaniments. But the killer dressings we ordered, both house-made, were the crowning touch. The Italian reminded me of dressing my Mom used to make. It was bold, spicy, and actually had some flavor to it. Simply superb, and surprisingly hard to find these days, even in Italian restaurants, for some reason.
Even with Marty's detailed descriptions of the entrees, we were simply not prepared for the overall presentation and quality of the food that he brought to the table. Wonderful does not cover it. The jumbo prawns were butterflied and broiled, and each weighed 1/4 pound. Four of those, plus rice pilaf and side veges, (and salad, and rolls) made for a very satisfying meal. My wife's scallops and prawns were equally good. She raved over the saffron sauce.
How we found room for dessert, I'll never know. But find it we did, for a nice shared piece of warm chocolate molten lava cake and two good coffees. I can't remember the last time prior to this that we ordered dessert in a nice sit-down restaurant, so this is saying something.
We paid the check, and on the way out, I stopped at the hostess stand and commented to the owner (I think) that the meal was way better than we ever expected. Marty was also standing there, so I gave him some love too. Well deserved all the way around.
So were there any downsides? Actually, no. None at all. The check was certainly more than we're used to paying at home, but it's Marco Island after all, and I didn't mind a bit paying more for food and service that I felt was superior. That's why I'm rating Value as Excellent. If you can't afford to stay and eat on Marco Island, don't come.
A terrific meal prepared and served by people who know what they're doing, and an engaged, on-site owner. On a weeknight, no less.