By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Sima Verzino calls her husband, Chef Marcellino Verzino, a “visionary.”
That relates to the creative dishes at Marcellino Ristorante in Old Town Scottsdale and his thoughts for the restaurant, which was temporarily closed for a month due to the pandemic.
“We were so blessed to have celebrated our 16th year in Arizona in the fall, and we had been thinking about remodeling even before the pandemic started,” Sima says.
“When we closed the restaurant temporarily, Chef pushed the project up and began working around the clock. While most people know him as an award-winning chef, he is also a skilled craftsman and quite the visionary. He’s doing much of the work himself together with his dear friend Rafi, owner of HRH Contracting. The dining room has been expanded to include a brand-new look to Chef’s Private Dining Room and, consequently, now allows for better social distancing measures. New décor will include a 6-foot waterfall window and new glass front door. In addition, for those who wish to dine outside, we’ll have tables set up on both patios.”
The televisions in the private dining room, Sima says, are perfect for presentations. The sliding glass doors that separate the private dining room from the rest of the building are “gorgeous,” she adds, and framed in wood.
The Verzinos have been impressed with the guests who have returned to Marcellino. The couple didn’t space tables apart. Instead, tables with gold tablecloths are for guests. Those covered with burgundy cloths are off limits. They trained their staff to do what they need to do to keep people safe.
“We had a slew of guests,” she says. “They’ve been so supportive and so loving. It’s the most incredible feeling to see people so happy. We’re blown away by it. We were filled to capacity, considering the table distances. Every table we had available was filled on the dining room, the private room and patio.
“In the private room, what Chef did with that super large table was he created six two tops. You can dine any night you want in the private room.”
During the pandemic, the Verzinos didn’t have to limit their menu, as their items were available.
“There was no problem with him getting all the fresh food he needed,” she says. “Chef ordered a lot of fresh seafood, which is flown in overnight.”
The diners who have visited the restaurant trust the Verzinos to keep them safe, Sima adds.
“The fact that we’re independent and chef-owned, people have a lot of faith in Chef and me,” she says. “They already know how clean our restaurant was from the get-go. We’re always disinfecting and cleaning. We created the solution that we spray down the chairs with. That’s the only extra thing we had to do. Guests are not worried one bit about coming to the restaurant.”
The couple will celebrate Father’s Day this year with specials from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, June 21. Takeout is available as well.
Patrons can arrange for dad to receive a special Topgolf gift card presented to him during dessert. Marcellino Ristorante will do the shopping for the gift card, which provides one hour at the driving range. The cost for the gift card is $30, and reservations must be made by Friday, June 19.
Traditional offerings include Chef’s daily, hand-crafted pastas such as his well-loved tortelloni (large pasta pockets filled with a puree of filet mignon and sautéed vegetables with a hearty tomato sauce); Mediterranean seafood that include dishes of scallops, shrimp, mussels and fresh fish of the day; as well as grilled lamb chops, filet mignon, pork tenderloin, veal and chicken.
Chef’s many daily specials are orated table-side, and their elite team of professional European-style service team guides all through the “Marcellino Experience,” which includes suggestions on the perfect wine pairings.
Desserts include chocolate mousse, panna cotta, apple galleta, tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake and gelato. Fathers can also enjoy a complimentary dessert of creamy tiramisu, which features espresso drenched savoiardi, layered with mascarpone cream and dusted with unsweetened cocoa.
Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day at Marcellino Ristorante provides a special children’s menu. The specially priced dishes for children include gnocchi sorrentina, light potato/pasta orbs in tomato sauce with melted mozzarella bits for $14; paccatelli, short, toothsome pasta in a hearty tomato and sausage ragu or with butter and parmigiano for $13; and grilled chicken breast with his creamy mashed potatoes for $13.
Marcellino Ristorante, 7114 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, 480.990.9500, marcellinoristorante.com.