My wife and I enjoyed an evening out to celebrate her birthday last week. I wanted to do something different restaurant wise than our normal establishments we enjoy. So it occurred to me that we had not been to our favorite Italian restaurant for a few years. Marie’s is located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley in Stevensville, Montana about 35 minutes south of where my wife and I live. So this is not an establishment I frequent due to time constraints. We had an incredible evening, our food was fantastic, the service was great, and it has a charming Italian Villa like atmosphere that makes you feel as if you’ve taken a vacation. Marie’s is a family style restaurant that is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You need to call ahead to get a reservation and when you do you will get an answering machine that you leave your message about the day and time you want your reservation, if no one calls back it is OK to go to dinner. When you arrive at the restaurant you walk right into an area that faces an open kitchen where you can see all the food being prepared and a list of the menu items from appetizers to entrees that are available that day.
You are then escorted to one of the two rooms decorated like your Italian Villa where you will be seated. On the way you will pass by the bread and dessert bar on one wall and a buffet that showcases all the wine selections. By now you realize everything served at Marie’s has been prepared from scratch that day, and I mean everything.
While walking to your table you realize that you’re in for an evening of great food. It is very tantalizing but you now begin to think about the dinner choices, appetizers, and what wine to order knowing that pairing be damned because my wife drinks only one wine, Pinot Grigio, period, end of story. That being said it is her night after all so I will defer to the PG.
My wife and I are now seated and are discussing food options and my theory is this; if it’s that good why make choices just order it all, so to speak. We decide to have two appetizers, the Lamb Tortellini and the Fried Calamari. These both arrive at the table and our bottle of Loredona Pinot Grigio from Monterey, California(notes will follow). Both of the appetizers are delicious, and the Calamari may be the best I’ve ever had. OK the wine is good too even though it’s a Pinot Grigio which is not necessarily my favorite.
Once we have finished with the appetizers we are served the dinner salad for two and I have ordered the Chianti Beef Soup, once again not choosing but just deciding I need to try both. After all I’m a wine and food writer and need to have the complete experience. The dinner salad was very good, fresh, and colorful. Fresh greens and thinly sliced yellow squash, zucchini, red peppers, and tomatoes. The dressing was a lite olive oil, vinegar, and Italian seasonings. Now the Chianti Beef soup was terrific, as suggested it has Chianti wine base that has been reduced and incorporated into the soup with finely shredded beef that perfectly thickens the soup broth and accompanies simple vegetables in the soup. Simple, great.
At this point we have pretty much already had enough food, but why stop now the best is yet to come. Three entrees, Veal Scallopini, Angel Hair pasta with Meatballs, and Scallops and Clams on Linguine with a lite tomato based broth. The meals were great. The Veal Dish was done perfect and prepared perfectly, pounded very thin and lightly breaded and not over powered by anything else it was dressed with or accompanied by. The Angel Hair had a perfect red sauce and fantastic homemade meatballs simple, ample, and a unbeliveable flavor. The Scallops and Clams over Linguine were so good I can still remember the taste. Chef Mike who is the owner, chef, husband, father, and grandfather prepared this dish to absolute perfection. Perfect scallops, perfect clams, great pasta, a very lite broth that was to die for.
My wife and I enjoyed her favorite wine varietal, Pinot Grigio with our dinner. It was a California wine from the Monterey area, Loredona Pinot Grigio. Loredona wines are a reflection of the vineyards on which they are grown. Monterey’s cool and moderate climate is ideal for crafting our Riesling and Pinot Grigio. Monterey’s warm days result in ripe, tropical fruit flavors and floral aromas, while the cooling fog and nights preserve a crisp and refreshing acidity in the wines. With a 50 degrees variance between daytime high and nighttime low temperatures not uncommon, their Riesling and Pinot Grigio display ripeness from the sun and crispness from the fog.
The Loredona Pinot Grigio features a melange of tropical and spicy aromas including pear, pineapple, and ginger. The flavors are rich and intense, with ripe pear and Fuji apples. The wine finishes with strong hints of vanilla. My wife truly enjoyed this wine on her birthday and that was the whole point, not for me to have chosen a more appropriately paired wine that she wouldn’t enjoy.
Moving on to the desserts that were fantastic and the crescendo of the dinner. We chose Tiramisu and a Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut filling. They were both amazing, the Tiramisu perhaps the best I’ve ever had anywhere and the Chocolate Cake was moist, flavorful, not too rich, and the filling was fantastic.
We had a terrific night out to celebrate my wife’s birthday thanks to Marie’s, Chef Mike, and our wait person Gina who is Chef Mike’s Daughter and has grown up in the restaurant . Please give Marie’s a try when you’re in Western Montana or if you live near by please try it. It’s a fantastic meal and experience, from my table to yours.
Marie’s Italian Restaurant
4040 U.S. 93, Stevensville, MT 59870-6443