Marco Polo Ristorante: The night bouncing Brooklyn.
By: Carlos Dragonné
We finished the day in Brooklyn. Every minute that passes reminds me that we are less time of having to store bags in the car, drive to John F. Kennedy Airport, leaving the Chevrolet Cruze that we rented at Budget Rent A Car to enjoy every corner of this neighborhood of new york and take the flight that would return us to the city of Mexico. I forgot the diet in Mexico and did not seem to be able to find any around here, although I confess that I have not sought with so much effort, because there is always something that distracts me, whether it be a Hot Dog in Coney Island or some Noodles in Naruto Ramen… go, to the places that I consider as calories are wasted by their food quite malita -and that several of them were disappointing because of the expectations created – start to look attractive. This happens when one enjoys both a destination not only for vacationing, but until we make imaginary plans of places where he could easily move. So, in the midst of this depressing scenario of the imminent return, we climb in the car to drive through Brooklyn and we took on the task of finding a place that we call the attention for dinner and enjoy one of the last nights of this trip. We went to Park Slope and Prospect Park to enjoy the end of the afternoon in front of Grand Army Plaza and the beautiful Brooklyn Public Library -that we had closed by Sunday, and to which we will return shortly – and after seeing the sun hide we headed to Cobble Hill, as we had been recommended to walk through that area if we were looking for a good hidden place of the guides but basic to enjoy a good dinner. So we got to Court Street, and while we watched through the window of the car we noticed a place that was, just, local, local one that we had already told you that we would have to visit. But we did not do case to the recommendation made previously and ended up going into the bigger place. Why? Simple: after the mexican cuisine, the cuisine that I enjoy most is the Italian. Welcome to Marco Polo Ristorante.
While I estacionaba the car, Elsie came down to check if he had room. And as you know it… you have to have the best table in terms of light and location to take photographs of the dishes because it is basic to share with you how he sees what we did. Was in it, when a man in a suit, who she assumed as the pit boss or captain of waiters, came over to offer you the best table of the place in terms of lighting. Already installed, I came to the table and to my surprise was that the man in question was there with her, sitting, talking, telling you about the restaurant and what we were able to enjoy sitting there. It turns out that the place we had recommended and that was in the adjoining building was also part of the group, a wine cellar that had been built to the owner’s son after having finished his studies at the Culinary Institute of America and which offered, in addition to a variety of wines important, that the man in question told to us were of the best wood oven pizza you can get in Brooklyn. This is an assertion dangerous, especially when we talk about our palate is that if something you know -in addition to tacos and mexican food – it is pizza.
We walked with him to the local next door to meet the stone oven and the cooks in charge of use it, themselves, which, without any surprise, they were mexican. One a native of Zacatecas who found his place in Brooklyn and he welcomed us with a margarita pizza traditional, to be entirely honest, yes it is placed among the 10 best pizzas we’ve tested, so things were on track.
If you have not guessed by this time, it would be good to confess to you that this confusion with the “chief of staff” with which started our night ended up being more positive to understand the passion that lives in the tables of Marco Polo Ristorante, as our host was nothing less than the owner of the place, focused like a good Italian to take care of its business in a manner almost obsessive, and looking to deliver the best experience to all its diners. Hence, as soon as he had to leave our table to attend to a big family that was celebrating his birthday he left us in charge with the genrente of the place, a michoacan with more than 20 years in Brooklyn and almost all of those years working in the same place. Joseph, an Italian perfect that it showed while giving instructions to waiters and captains alike, helped us to understand the passion for this place, attended by the same team for more than 15 years, the time that you have working there the less time it takes in Marco Polo. And is that the place is not only a familiar place, but a place of family. It has created a restaurant in which each face is well known both among employees and between diners and where the traditions are still repeating as echoes of the story of every family that crosses the doors. To shows, this night was celebrated as the birthday of a child who was the third generation of the same family eating at that place, because an absolute necessary of Brooklyn, authentically Italian and full of the flavours and aromas of the cuisine that I like but, above all, with that feeling of home and welcome that few places can today boast of, especially in this bubble of the industry restaurant that is about to burst in the next few months.
The time came for the dishes and, if they had not counted until now is because, as of entry, not even the chose us. Leave it in the hands of Joseph Chirico, the owner of the place, the selection of what would be best to prove on this night that began to turn toward nostalgia as much of the farewell of Brooklyn as the encounter with a place that becomes step-by-step a favorite of our countless trips. The Octopus and Squid with a Pesto Pistache is one of the dishes that may well serve as an introduction or as a good entree if you decide to do this, although if you do, I recommend you ask for two. Cooked to perfection -what is expected after 33 years of experience in one of the Italian neighborhoods par excellence of New York-, the arrival of this dish as a first step to a journey of Italian cuisine that Chirico has created in Brooklyn is a great decision. And we can’t expect less from a family that, at the end of each year, return to terroir italiano not to lose the contact with the roots and rediscover those flavours that are still bringing to the table of Marco Polo. On the other hand, I can not enter in an Italian restaurant without trying the Meatballs of the House that, in this case, are of veal in a quite homemade sauce of crushed tomatoes with the amount almost exact of herbs and spices, combined with the softness of the meat, make it a dish that I would like it to last longer.
But, of course, there’s nothing like trying the fresh pasta, made in house, every day, when one enters a place of tradition as important as this. I notice that it is very complicated to decide what is in the letter, because it seems almost everything, but as had already entered the world of beef, I preferred to stay on that path, so that the Agnolotti of Spinach with Veal and Sage Sauce were the selection more obvious. When one goes to dinner at an Italian restaurant, the difference between pasta cooked to perfection, and created from scratch to ensure freshness feels so immediate. Clear that can suddenly one to blame to lose the experience with other pastas, but that is what that one goes to the great restaurants, to enjoy in its best conception of the dishes, sometimes, we know in home or tested in other places. Enjoy a pasta has to be a journey for the palate that go beyond the comercialero “al dente”. The texture of the pasta, the flavor and what it takes to prove something fact almost at the time is what defines a dish as epic or as something merely passable.
The dinner passed with conversation, intermittent Chirico, your anecdotes with customers, the history of the generations that have passed during the 33 years of the restaurant, the creation of the family that has to work with him and that makes it look with a classic patriarch sicilian in the eyes of the romantic film that I have inside. At some point in the dinner, already almost entered the coffee -excellent, as you can imagine – and thinking if you got some sugar to the dinner to close the night and walk the streets of Brooklyn back to our hotel in Brooklyn Heights, we were approached by a young man, I figure, some 26 years ago. First time at the restaurant for him, but the son of a great friend and client of many years, Marco Polo, came to meet Joseph Chirico and ask for a kind of blessing -again, the patriarch sicilian in action – for his career of opera singer who is starting up and that is unpacking after having sung in Sydney. Chirico embraced it, introduced it to all the diners that were there, and the notes started to come out of the awesome voice of this tenor, that, there, a capella, for the simple pleasure of joining us and be part of our night, gave us extracts from Verdi and Puccini while the aroma of the coffee filled my table and the quiet respectful let only the music of their song fill the air.
We closed the night by saying goodbye to Chirico, embracing fraternally, Joseph, thanking the tenor who gave us magic in an improvised way and we jumped into the car. While we would run around Hicks St. heading north to Brooklyn Heights, we are silent, remembering, and learn all we could of the dinner and everything that happened around it. Just took off and I looked at my cell phone Nessun Dorma. A few arias are so accurate to close the night. And is that, as well as prince unknown acclaim when it closes that will expire at dawn, we also wanted to us to defeat the dawn, which represented the return to Mexico and, therefore, the goodbye temporarily to Brooklyn.