An Italian restaurant that’s found success in a former cabaret space downtown now has a second location on a much different stage.
The new Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar opened in Metairie today (Jan. 18).
The address was previously a location of the Mexican restaurant Coyote Blues. The design, which once made it look like a cantina done in prime colors, has been toned down to resemble an Italian villa, albeit one perched on Metairie’s busy commercial strip.
The new restaurant serves the same menu of Sicilian dishes found at the downtown location. Grilled, long-stem artichokes, braised pork Marsala and spaghetti alle vongole (with clams in a buttery broth) are representative dishes.
“It’s Italian comfort food with good ingredients,” said Gene Todaro Jr., who runs the restaurant with his father.
Kevin Moody, a member of the family that runs the Lafayette-based Coyote Blues brand, is also a partner in the new restaurant.
While this part of Metairie has seen much commercial redevelopment lately, many of the new restaurants to arrive have been national chains. With the new Marcello’s, the partners are betting that the suburban market is hungry for more locally-owned restaurants in the upscale casual niche.
The Todaro family is in the local wine business, and their restaurants share a hybrid approach to wine, one which falls somewhere between a wine shop and a wine bar. Bottles are displayed on racks, customers make their own selections during the meal and the wait staff handles the wine from there. It’s a semi-self-serve approach, and it comes with a price mark-up closer to a corkage fee than the restaurant standard.
Wine is even worked into the decor. Wine bottles decorate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and wooden wine cases have been repurposed as wall paneling.
Though the Metairie location is much different from the downtown version, the layout and look of the new restaurant feels similar. There’s a large bar area, and two dining rooms with the wine selection arrayed between them. The second dining room is designed to accommodate private events and functions.
Todaro hails from a branch of a New Orleans family that moved to Lafayette in the 1970s, where they eventually opened three Marcello’s restaurants. They converted these to wine shops in the 1980s, but a few years back they began reviving the restaurant end of the family business, with new restaurants in Lafayette and New Orleans. The family also has the retail stores Vieux Carre Wine & Spirits and Elio’s Wine Warehouse.
In 2014, they opened Marcello’s at 715 St. Charles Ave., in the former home of Le Chat Noir theater.
While this Metairie edition of Marcello’s has just opened, Todaro said his family is considering further expansions.
“We want to see where this takes us next,” he said.
Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar
715 St. Charles Ave., 504-581-6333
4860 Veterans Blvd., 504-301-3848
Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Sat. (both locations)