Da Marco Italian Restaurant – Highly Recommend

Posted on August 2nd, 2003 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by mynagirl

Da Marco
1520 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX
(713) 807-8857

It’s easy to miss Da Marco: the small converted house is set off the street right at the most harrowing narrow-laned portion of the Westheimer curve; the sign is well-lit but competes for eye attention with the nearby tattoo and body piercing joints. Those eclectic surroundings, sprinkled with top-notch food choices is, of course, a major part of the appeal to this section of Houston. This gracious Italian eatery fits right in.

Last night was our first trip to Da Marco; we wanted an upscale (but not outrageous) dinner treat before heading over to the SkyBar. The entrance to the restaurant leads you into a tiny 3′ curtained area, and from there the hostess escorts you another three feet to the small bar. Jacketed waiters efficiently weave through the small non-smoking dining room — the feeling is intimate but not overly cramped. The place was very well candle-lit, although a bit too warm in the bar area because of the open wood-burning bread oven just behind the well-roasted bartender. The families and couples dining there on this visit (a Friday night) were a comfortably mixed bunch: everything from middle aged couples in jeans and tennies, to younger couples in suits and evening dresses, to at least two very authentic-looking garrulous Italian families.

Our white-linened table was nicely placed near a back wall and our waiter was affable and knowledgeable. The wine list was all Italian, with only a few selections available by the glass. The menu was structured in a traditional three-course format: antipasti, pasta, and entrée. The off-menu selections were presented via a chalkboard and included an oxtail pasta selection as well as main courses of rabbit and in-house aged angus beef. Our meal for two included:

antipasto

Frisée with pears, candied walnuts, and some type of wonderfully soft ripe cheese
 

 

antipasto

Giant sea scallops with orange segments (two bites into which Scott proclaims, “this might be my new favorite restaurant”)
pasta

An unbelievably good sweet corn ravioli with huge bits of fresh lobster meat
 

 

pasta

Mouth-watering porcini risotto with fresh hunks of ripe parmesan
entrée

Very tender pork tenderloin with figs in a sweet balsamic reduction, accompanied by a very tasty cheese polenta
entrée

Fabulously tender duck in a sweet glaze, accompanied by mashed sweet potatoes and wonderfully grilled brussel sprouts

Total meal cost: $140 before gratuity

Alas, we skipped any dessert / coffee course, as we were full and ready to move onto the remainder of our evening’s entertainment. But Da Marco’s definitely delivered what we were looking for. The food was unbelievably good, the waitstaff attentive (the steady stream of fresh bread and ripe olive oil was quite evil), and the ambiance and people-watching were perfect: not too clattery, nicely candle-lit, and a fun mix of patrons. And, as a big bonus for us, it was all smoke-free. There was a separate dining room completely enclosed by French doors — it could be that’s a smoking dining room; I meant to ask but was too busy eating and enjoying myself. Regardless, the bar and main dining room were wonderfully free of even a trace of smoke, and it made the entire experience enjoyable and relaxing.

Da Marco definitely delivers for its cost. If you’re looking for excellent food, an Italian wine list, and an intimate and attentive dining experience, then this is one of the best choices in this part of Houston.

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