Previously published in the Wichita Eagle:
With the recent closure of two local Italian restaurants, Luca and Bocconcini, Wichitans are suddenly left with fewer choices when it comes to getting their pasta fix. One of the remaining options is Marchello’s, a family run operation on south Seneca. While it does not replace the upscale menus that both Luca and Bocconcini offered, it serves up some solid old school Italian American food.
The interior of Marchello’s has the feel of a homestyle Italian joint, except for the lack of red checkered tablecloths and straw covered candle holders. There is a decent amount of seating, but I imagine that on busy days it can get somewhat cramped.
As the theme to The Godfather played in the background, we poured over the expansive menu that covers just about any Italian food you could possibly think of including pastas, calzones, pizzas, paninis, and desserts. There are even a few fusion surprises like jambalaya and something called an Italian potato. While you would need an entire football team to do a proper review of all the offerings, we decided on this visit to stick with two different pasta dishes. I had heard good things about the meat lasagna so that was my choice, while my dining companion went with an order of the Lilly’s, one of their signature pasta dishes. Lunch time specials are offered that include a drink and one visit to the salad bar.
I started my meal off at the small salad bar and was able to construct a good salad using the above average lettuce and veggies that were offered. The lasagna came out looking like a perfect piece with its expertly melted cheese and minced parsley. Fortunately, it tasted every bit as good as it looked. The well-balanced tomato sauce tasted fresh and had plenty of ground beef and pork. I was pleased to taste fennel seed in the sauce, which I believe is one the keys to good lasagna. This lasagna is certainly some of the best you can find in Wichita. The Lilly’s featured chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and diced ham sitting on a bed of angel hair pasta. Pesto creme sauce and a layer of melted cheese capped off this indulgent dish. The pesto creme sauce with its velvety texture was the star of this meal. While we both felt there was an excessive amount of melted cheese, the Lilly’s was something we would surely order again.
Although there were only two waitresses working the lunch crowd, our service was good. The prices were reasonable for the amount of food we received and Marchello’s is probably one of the few places in town where you can drink a Peroni for $3.75 a bottle.