Regulars know the chicken parmigiano is made the old-fashioned way on an Italian roll with melted mozzarella and lots of fresh tomato sauce.
We know the steamed clams are plump, juicy and aromatic in a rich broth of white wine, garlic, chili flakes, butter and herbs and that the freshly baked bread dunked into it takes it over the top.
Mauians also love that Louis Armstrong's "Mack The Knife" is a staple on the stereo, the black-and-white leather booths are comfy and private, and that the restaurant is a cool and convenient oasis right in the thick of the big-box stores in Kahului.
Manager Lorna Wong and waiter Dave Young bring out plates of linguine with meatballs, fried calamari with marinara sauce and lemon, and seafood pasta in light garlic cream.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
After 18 years in business, Marco's Grill & Deli is still considered a consistent and quality-driven Italian eatery for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
"We're still doing many things the same way as when we started 18 year ago," says owner Marco Defanis, a Philadelphia native and former butcher.
"All of the sauces are still made from scratch and so are the salad dressings. We make our own meatballs and sausages in house. All of our steaks are certified Angus beef and cooked to order. Business remains steady, thank God for that!"
Marco's at a glance:
* Where: On the corner of Dairy Road and 444 Hana Highway in Kahului, Suite M.
* Hours: Open seven days a week. Breakfast is from 7:30 a.m. to noon weekdays and until 1 p.m. weekends. Both lunch and dinner served from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
* Comment: Marco's was voted the "Best Business Lunch" and "Best Italian Restaurant" several times in our Best of Maui contest. It's close to the airport and big-box stores.
* Signature items: Vodka rigatoni, stuffed roasted pepper, Greek salad, house-made meatballs, hot pastrami deli sandwich, shrimp scampi and tiramisu.
* For more details: Call 877-4446.
Those wanting to meet friends before a day of shopping in Central Maui may wake up to breakfast there from 7:30 a.m. to noon weekdays, and until 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
"We serve very good coffee here, which is a necessity with breakfast," says General Manager Sandy Szymanski.
"Our coffee is roasted weekly by order and done in the warehouse directly behind our restaurant (by Maui Coffee Roasters). Our Marco's Blend is proprietary, and it's flavored with macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and chocolate."
Want to take some home? Marco's also sells it in attractively packaged foil bags by the pound. It's perfect for gift-giving for the coffee lover in your life.
"Shipping our coffee to the Mainland is very affordable," says Sandy.
"We also feature a two-egg breakfast and full stack of buttermilk pancakes served with house-made maple butter for $5.95. And the eggs Benedict can't be beat."
As for lunch and dinner, Marco intends to put some new menu items on soon that he ran as specials.
"Some of the specials were so good, we just have to make them permanent," he says. "We'll add the pasta puttanesca, grilled fresh salmon with a side of cucumber salad, blue cheese wedge and more."
On a recent trip to Las Vegas, Marco got enamored with a top restaurant pupu there called pigs in the blanket. But not like what you may envision.
"These pigs in the blankets are little hot dogs, baked inside fresh bread with sides of barbecue sauce, mustard and relish. They were awesome! And, I'm going to reinstate lasagne soon."
Of course, it's hard to find a better Caesar salad on island. The Greek comes in medium or large sizes, and it's packed with mixed greens, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, Greek olives, bell peppers and feta cheese drizzled in vinaigrette.
The roasted red pepper appetizer stuffed with eggplant, mushrooms, garlic, prosciutto and provolone cheeses is also a top seller. Sip a nice glass of chianti with it, and you'll be in heaven.
"The peppers just blow people away!" says Marco. "So do the spicy fried calamari and the steamed clams."
All of these items are available for both lunch and dinner daily all the way from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
"Fresh Manila clams are delivered daily to us for the clam appetizer as well as the clams and linguini," says Sandy. "I personally have not found a better steamer appetizer on this island. Our half-pound burgers and our 8- ounce rib eye sandwiches and 14-ounce rib eye entree are also awesome."
But who can dine at Marco's without at least once ordering the vodka rigatoni, the house specialty. It's got imported prosciutto sauteed with garlic in a pink cream sauce topped with mozzarella and romano cheeses for a taste that will keep you coming back time after time.
"We have a nice wine selection both by the glass the bottle as well as a full bar for all tastes."
Pizzas are popular and so are sandwiches from the deli and the grill. Favorites include hot pastrami, meatball parmigiano and Italian subs with all the fixings.
"For dessert, you must try our specialty of house-made tiramisu," says Marco.