If you think pasta is boring, you haven't been to Mario's. The chicken primavera, for example, rocks because it tastes crazy-fresh, and the olive-oil-coated angel hair pasta feels light and cooked al dente and not rubbery or hard to chew. Fresh veggies, such as chopped red peppers, with sun-dried tomatoes and tasty, tenderized chicken chunks, keep the dish all-around delicious. Fresh parmesan also enhances the flavors.
Chicken marsala, chicken parmesan, cheese ravioli, five-cheese lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, linguini and clams, margherita pizza and calamari also dot the menu.
Service is friendly and attentive without seeming phony or intrusive. Also, many regulars get greeted by first name and a cheery "How you doin'?" Meanwhile a large, colorful mural of food and wine covers most of a wall while a muted ESPN plays on a flat-screen TV. As peppy jazz music plays, girlfriends sip wine and martinis as they chat, and men sip drinks at the bar. Food portions are really generous, though, so good luck saving room for tiramisu.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Mary Susan Littlepage