Leeds-born Marco Pierre White is regarded as the UK’s first celebrity chef, as well as a proud Yorkshireman. On a recent visit to Marco’s New York Italian in Sheffield we not only got the opportunity to sample the quality of its latest menu, but also the generous portions served at his restaurants.
Housed adjacent to the Hampton by Hilton luxury hotel in what was previously a police station, Marco’s is stylishly contemporary, a far cry from the utilitarian and business-like environment of the building’s crime-busting days.
After being shown to our table and poring over the extensive list of impressive-sounding starters and mains, we plumped for the Carpaccio of beetroot, goats’ cheese with walnut dressing (£7.50) and the Calamari fritto misto, with tomato salsa and mayo (£7.95) to start.
What struck us immediately with both dishes was the sheer volume of food on our plates. No half measures here! Clearly Marco Pierre White’s Yorkshire roots have manifested themselves in the generosity of the portions, no doubt in an attempt to strike the right balance between quality and value for money.
Whenever there’s hearty portions there’s always the nagging concern that there will be a compromise on the quality of the ingredients but this certainly wasn’t true here. The slivers of beetroot were expertly presented with just the right amount of goats’ cheese. The quality and generous portions were mirrored by our other starter, where perfectly cooked calamari was enveloped in a lightly delicate batter, accompanied by a tasty tomato dipping salsa mayo. All-in-all a very promising prelude to our evening.
Progressing on to the main courses, the magnitude of the portions continued, with the Lasagne (£12.95) definitely being further along the ‘large’ end of the spectrum. Once more the quality didn’t drop, with a rich and meaty ragu being nicely complemented by Zarpellon cheese, which helped raise the overall quality by a couple of notches.
The real star of the show, however, was the Surf ‘n’ Turf, 10oz ribeye (£32.50), which came perfectly ‘rare’ as ordered and adorned with three fat and juicy New Orleans-style blackened prawns in garlic and rosemary butter. Accompanied by French fries, grilled tomatoes and watercress, the ensemble piece was a fitting showcase for the standard of food we’d been presented with. Given the bountiful plates of food we had been served, a side order of Panzanella salad of fresh basil, capers, cherry tomatoes, croutons, red onion and merlot dressing (£3.50) could have been a step too far but thankfully it was so light and flavoursome that it wasn’t the case.
Having chosen such a meaty selection for our mains, the Italian red wine our waiter (who was attentive and engaging thoughout our visit) recommended, the Veneto, Passori Rosso (£30.95), proved to be a fine choice. Its full bodied, peppery flavour lended itself particularly well to the steak.
Even after such a hearty feast it would have been unforgivable to not at least share one of the menu’s delicious sounding desserts and The Chicago Hot Chocolate Brownie, warm chocolate sauce and ice cream (£5.95) brought the curtain down on what had been a throughly enjoyable evening of finely made, well presented and generously portioned food.