Upon entering, we were promptly greeted by the maitre d', who, through the course of our visit, seemed to ensure that the front of the house ran smoothly. For our drinks, my friend Tommy ordered a specialty drink, the Dreamsicle. It tasted just like a dreamsicle, sweet, a bit of citrus tang, and very delicious. I had a glass of the house Merlot--also a very fine choice. I'd have to say dinner was off to a fine start.
We decided to start with an appetizer, the Risotto Ball, a baked Italian meatball that was wrapped in risotto, and covered with some smoked mozarella. It was served on a bed or red sauce. The meatball itself was very tasty, moist and tender. I thought the rice just a bit too al dente for my taste, but very close to perfection. Overall, I'd give this a "thumbs up" from several aspects: originality, taste, and plating. I definitely would order it again.
Our dinners came with a choice of soup or salad. For my dinner, I chose to have it with the Tomato Basil soup. Our server, Katie, did caution me that some diner's found it a bit too spicy. I'm glad she offered that caution, a wise move. It was indeed a bit on the spicy side, but I loved it! It had a nice amount of heat. I think that the heat did slightly overpower the basil--I could taste the basil, but it was quite subtle. However, overall loved this soup. The rich and deep tomato flavor was predominant and very fresh tasting. I'd order it again in a heartbeat!
Tommy chose to have the salad with his dinner. Look who's eating healthy! The salad was topped with some carrots, a peperocini, and black olives. The dressing itself was very tasty and served on the side--I always appreciate that. The only real disappointment was that the lettuce was just plain old chopped iceberg. It seemed a bit out of place in the midst of a fancy setting and fine dinner. It was tasty enough, but just seemed a bit "low key" for the setting. But still, it was plenty tasty.
For my main course, I had the Rigatoni all Vodka, a pink cream sauce with pancetta and rigatoni. I added chicken to it, and there were some nice sized medallions of chicken that were very tender. The sauce itself was very good with a nice fresh flavor. There were a few bits of pancetta that seemed a bit tough or gristly, but overall it was just fine. I thought that maybe just a tad more sauce would have been in order. The nicely cooked, perfectly al dente pasta did tend to soak up the sauce--and that's a good thing. But it's also a minor point, since I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. And that's a good thing, too, as the portion was quite substantial and I have enough for a lunch at home later. I also thought the dish seasoned perfectly, nice fresh tomato flavor, some oregano and basil, the cream--it was yummy!
For his main course, Tommy had the Chicken Parmigiana, tender think scallopines of chicken were breaded and fried, topped with parmesan cheese and baked and served with a red sauce. All of this was served on a bed of spaghetti. This seemed to me, as with my dish, a real Italian dish, hearty, showcasing the tomato flavor, and it was delicious. It's a good thing, too, as we also have leftovers of this, it was a very substantial serving.
I cannot quit without mentioning the breadstick. They were very good. Tender, flavorful, a nice hint of garlic, and served warm. And there was a steady supply of them. They were great for sopping up the last of the soup and the last of the sauce on the plate, too. And were fine with just a bit of oil and pepper as well.
Overall, I'd say Marco Dino's Ristoranti is off to a great start. We've heard from a few other friends who've eaten there and all agreed, it was very good. We were there on a Saturday night and I was surprise at how busy they were. It's a new endeavor for Rich and his crew, and if they keep up the good work, will be a success and a nice addition to the restaurant scene in downtown Sanford, one of my favorite places to hang out.