When I first received my invitation to come celebrate Marco Polo Ristorante’s 30th anniversary, I imagined a typical cocktail party filled with bottomless champagne and New Yorkers making small talk about their prosciutto and cheese hors-d’oeuvres. However, after making the trek to Carroll Gardens and walking into this evening soiree, I was surprised to find that this party was much more than a shallow gathering filled with artificial “congratulations.” Instead, it was an eventful evening with family and friends of owner/founder Joe Chirico and son/co-founder Marco Chirico, a wine dinner, an appearance by Marty Markowitz, and most importantly, a sail boat shaped ice sculpture in a pool of oysters and lemons.
While the gourmet snacks were a nice touch, the most fun part of the cocktail hour was meeting Marco and Joe Chirico, both who were extremely nice and pleasant to be around. It was easy to tell how much they cared about their restaurant and strived for it to be an authentic, welcoming place. And once again, it’s important to note that they definitely know how to pick out one hell of an ice sculpture.
While the cocktail hour was a dandy old time, the real celebration happened during the six-course wine dinner. Before everyone was served their first course, a series of speakers came up to the podium to honor Joe and all of his hard work building and improving Marco Polo Ristorante over the past 30 years. Joe was thanked by former Brooklyn borough president Howard Golden, for “bringing the best food to New York” and congressman Ed Towns, for bringing “not just a restaurant, but part of Italy’s history” to Carroll Gardens. The next speakers were two special guests who flew all the way from Italy to express their gratitude to Joe, but unfortunately their speeches were in Italian and I’m purely American with a hint of French Canadian, so I was unable to interpret the meaning behind the message. But no matter who was speaking or what language was being spoken, the feelings of gratefulness beamed through each speaker’s aura. To them, Marco Polo Ristorante was a vital part of the Carroll Gardens culinary scene, the Italian heritage, and their lives.
In response to many expressions of thanks, Joe welcomed everybody to Marco Polo and showed admiration for his son who has been following in his footsteps for three years now. The meal then started with fluke crudo topped with grapefruit, orange, meyers lemon wedges, and mint. It was paired with a Donnachiara Falanghina wine and was a light start to a progressively rich meal.
The next course was a pasta dish with two different ravioli and two different wines. On the left was a house made ravioli stuffed with crawfish, caciocavallo, and herbs in a sherry cream sauce. It was paired with a Donnachiara Greco di Tufo white wine. On the right was ravioli stuffed with wild boar, spices, and parmigiano reggiano in a Marsala sauce. It was paired with a red Donnachiara Aglianico.
Before the meat course, there was a brief intermission where Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz made a lively speech chronicling the events from Marco Polo Ristorante’s 1983 birth “way before Brooklyn became the coolest city on the planet and the culinary epicenter of America” up to now. He honored Joe for “set[ting] the standard for what a fine restaurant experience is and being an unbelievable host extraordinaire.”
Following Markowitz’s appearance was a ceremony I like to call the “Marco Polo Awards” — a series of trophies given to people who had significance in the development of Marco Polo Ristorante. 10 awards were given out to people including Joe and Marco Chirico themselves, and like the ice sculpture, they were pretty awesome and I wish I had one for my bookshelf.
After the “awards ceremony” the meal progressed with a grilled lamb chop served in a blackberry/cherry balsamic sauce alongside a broiled filet mignon topped with porcini mushroom crust in a taurad wine sauce. The wine pairing was a red Donnachiara Taurasi.
Finally, there was a dark chocolate apricot mousse for dessert with the luxury of a cookie spoon dipped in the center. I didn’t document this, but my friend and I asked for extra cookie spoons — one for each bite, obviously.
As the crowd dispersed and I ate my last cookie spoon, I realized it was time to go back to Manhattan and sleep off my food coma.
However, the Marco Polo 30th anniversary celebration is not completely over. It will continue this week with a special three-course menu available for all diners to enjoy. On the menu is an antipasti selection with choices like salmon di scozia affomiclo (smoked salmon), funghi ripieni (stuffed mushrooms), pepata di cozze (zuppa di mussels), or tortellini in brodo (spinach tortellini); an entree selection of two pasta dishes, two fish dishes, and four meat dishes; and for dessert, traditional cheese cake, tiramisu, or semifreddo turroni are all available to satisfy your sweet tooth.
So if you’re looking to celebrate 30 years of Italian cuisine with a fun crowd of Italians and Brooklynites, hop on the F train and stop by Marco Polo Ristorante. Seriously though, why go to Italy when you can go to Carroll Gardens?