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Mario e Mario: Homemade, the Italian Way
Mario e Mario: Homey Italian Cuisine
The last few days of of my summer were crowned with dinners at Mario e Mario up on the terrace. Enchanted by fine Italian music, lit by the street's yellow lantern and the many hanging bucket lights suspended from the pergola, we sat to enjoy some good food at Mario e Mario.
A while back, I dined at Mario et Mario a few times and left an impressed. This time the changes were clear. I left Wednesday night with a great impression and came back the same week on a Saturday. I've tried almost everything on the menu...
Located on Mar Mikhael, next to Mandaloun behind Bank of Beirut, is a traditional Lebanese house painted yellow bringing life to this calm street. Lights show behind the windows and their purple shutters hide an Italian feel with its terrace up a flight of metallic stairs. Up is another story.
The terrace has many rectangular marble tables surrounded by their metallic chairs. A bar, candles and olive oil bottles, colored salt and pepper mills and a plant to decorate the table. Clay plates and a napkin.
Dinner starts by explaining the menu. A seasonal menu and the plates of the day. Salads, pastas and carpaccio. Fresh mussels and a signature I loved, the caponata.
Dinner starts with an olive tapenade and a sundried tomato tapenade with almonds served next to a fresh olive oil focaccia and bread, some of which is topped with red onions. On the second night those were forgotten. I would add an empty plate in the middle for us to mix olive oil and balsamic, which is delicious. It really was a good balsamic.
And dinner started:
- Sea bass carpaccio: Thinly sliced while preserving the textures light colored sea bass fish sprinkled with salt and butter, floating with olive oil and lemon. Perfectly seasoned, the plate made me say waw. Redefined freshness.
- Special of the day: Fresh anchovy salad with bottarga, intense lemony, al dente cooked beans and the light bitterness of the bottarga with this long lasting after note of spiciness and richness. They don't only taste good, but look great as well.
- Caponata with seared brie cheese. A selection of grilled, diced vegetables, colored bell peppers, pine nuts and love. It has some interesting sweet notes. Light and fresh. I surely was not expecting Mario e Mario to do that. A delicious plate no Italian restaurant in Lebanon has done to date.
- Beef carpaccio, a round plate, thinly sliced fresh mushrooms, rocket leaves and olive oil with some white truffles added on top a la minute.
- Baked organic eggs served in a porcelain plate, two of them topped with white truffle and pieces of toasted bread. Lovely, redefined simplicity on a plate. There is nothing extravagant about them, but the simplicity and love felt in the plate are enough. Hot molten eggs with a boost of aromas and the light crunch those truffles provide.
- Generous and molten burrata. Creamy and topped with crunchy almonds and decorated with local sundried tomatoes. Good value for money, an order I'll have again. Add balsamic for double pleasure.
- Delicious tortellini filled with ricotta spinach and decorated with sage. A plate floating in butter, real and rich butter, cooked al dente and ready to amaze. It's not a plate for be faint hearted, a dish you will remember for a long time.
- Mushroom risotto, a generous portion of it, again white truffles and flavors, lots of them that will make you remember this plate.
- We had the mussel spaghetti and the lobster linguini as well as the white truffle tagliatelle. The three of them were great; pasta perfectly cooked al dente mixed in delicious sauces.
And now desserts:
- Homemade pastry cream and homemade toasted meringue, flavored with olive oil and infused with rosemary. Oh man that's a dessert I'll come back for, what an awesome creation, a mix of flavors combined together in a dessert I never had before in Lebanon. The crunchy fresh meringues, diced strawberries and the cream, light olive oil and the rich rosemary.
- Meringue-topped lemon tart on a bed of crunchy biscuits. Mouthwatering, like the two other desserts.
- Tiramisu: Mouthwatering cream-free tiramisu, generously soaked and decorated with raspberries.
- Deliver the plates with the cutlery for better looking pictures.
- The tapenade and tomato paste should be offered to every table.
Thank you Elie and Mira, the two new chefs handling the kitchens. The improvement is clear, the plates are tasty, the desserts mouthwatering. This is what I expect from Mario e Mario and it's finally good.