In order to get to know us better, maybe the best way is to look over this article by Drew Edwards
Marcelo's is hidden, taste isn't!
Judging from his food, chef Marcelo Croitoru got tired of making rubber chicken. In 2005, after years running a banquet hall and pimping out meals for the masses, Marcelo and his wife , Rodi,opened Marcelo's Restaurant in Cambridge, hoping to allow the chef to unleash his skills in cooking high end Italian cuisine. Given the chance to cook the food he loves for 40 instead of 200, Croitoru is taking full advantage of the opportunity.
Of course, you've probably never heard of Marcelo's. Tucked away next to an Apple Auto Glass among a string of car dealerships on Cambridge's Eagle Street North – just west of the shop-tastic Highway 24 – the restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside. And while the décore does have its positives – the high-back leather chairs and black table-cloths are comfy and cool – it's an awkward space with a drop ceiling, covered fluorescent lighting and a few odd design touches. It's not unpleasant, just a touch disconcerting.
The service, however is terrific. Rodi Croitoru, who emigrated from Romania with her husband the chef, is a wonderful host, chatting amiably with return customers and newbies alike. She is, as one would anticipate, well versed in the food and the menu, and provides as much guidance and information about the various dishes as is requested.
And, oh my, the dishes. Marcelo's menu is tight with just four appetizers and five main courses, plus a few specials. Everything is cooked from scratch and made to order. It limits the number of customers they serve – the restaurant seats just 36 and they don't turn tables unless is very busy – and it means the food can take some time to arrive. But this isn't a meal to rushed.
We started with the daily soup, a veal shank or osso bucco. Baby-cheek tender pieces of buttery veal joined by potato, carrots and peas in a luscious, lightly-creamed veal broth, the soup is surprisingly light with a little peppery, punchy finish. Simple with an underlying complexity of flavour, a hint of something that dances beyond the comprehension of my taste buds.
The Caprese salad was equally intricate, but more playful, the chef playing contrary Mary with temperature, texture and flavour. A base of cool Boccini cheese, the canvass. A layer of salty pancetta round, fried hot. A concasse of tomato, brightly sharp and made warm. Some parmesan cheese, some balsamic to drive things over the top. A light spin on an old classic, made delicious.
The mains were also excellent. A rib eye steak cooked to perfection was robbed of its rightful glory by a gorgonzola gnocchi, long fingers of the potato pasta fried a golden brown and dancing with a flavour profile not normally associated with gnocchi. It steals the show.
The lasagna and duck breast with roasted almond and orange reduction seemed on paper and odd pairing, thought perfectly suited to me.
The lasagna is elevated by the homemade noodles, so unrealistically fluffy and forgiving to the touch. The duck breast simply refused to acknowledge the concept of rubbery, electing instead to melt away on the tongue among the warm glaze made rich and fruity but stopping short of sweet. A slice of sundried tomato here, a lovely section of lightly roasted garlic there, decorates this particular version of Croitoru’s pretty plates and presentation.
Stuffed to happiness, I was suckered into dessert by the pull of the lemon ice served inside a frozen lemon carcass, toped with a few berries. It was simply ice, lemon and air, a fresh breeze to finish a wonderful meal.
Marcelo’s is a hidden gem, hiding near the fast food joints of Cambridge’s commercial strip. A family run place serving exquisite food, a chef freed from his shackles and making the most of the chance to make the food he’s passionate about.
by Drew Edwards for NightLifes