As the old adage goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
But in the case of Marco's Grill & Deli in Kahului, which is too classy of an oasis to say "ain't," I'll use, "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" instead.
For almost 20 years now, that has been the case, as Marco's is an Italian money making machine, pumping out consistent and tasty meals with good service for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Yummy,” says diner Tricia Littell, left, over the new crab mac ‘n cheese and Italian flat bread she enjoys with friend, Laura Williams, on a recent visit to the popular Central Maui restaurant.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Server Marti Fish brings salads of Cobb and the new Caprese in house basil dressing to the table.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
It's got a winning and convenient location near the airport and all of the big box stores, cool air conditioning, comfortable booths and chairs, and soothing music.
Desserts tempt you right at the entrance case, and signature dishes such as the vodka rigatoni, classic Caesar salad, and chicken parmigiana keep customers returning year after year.
But coming up on a landmark anniversary in April of 2013, owner Marco Defanis has decided to kick it up a notch or two and throw serious money at the place.
* Where: Located conveniently near the big box stores right on the corner of Dairy Road and 444 Hana Highway, in Kahului.
* 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.
* The food story: All of the sauces and dressings are made from scratch. Meatballs and sausages are made in house.
* Breakfast deal: Order two eggs and full stack of buttermilk pancakes with maple butter for $5.95.
* Desserts: Include tiramisu and peanut butter-chocolate cake.
For more details: Call 877-4446.
"The staff is really super excited," says the veteran restaurateur and former butcher from Philadelphia. "I've created a whole different feel and it's awesome."
Now, when you walk in the door for any of the meal services, you'll find fancy new flatware, bone China and leather-like table covers topping the linens.
"I first saw similar table covers at DUO at the Four Seasons and just had to have them," says Marco. "When I called the vendor, he said that five other top chefs on the island called him about them, too. It quiets the place. All of my tables are granite and tile, so it's softer to the ear."
The new plateware is sleek and expensive, like $48 per plate, and the flatware has a nice heft to it when you pick up, say, a shiny fork or sparkling knife.
"I think the food just looks awesome on the new plateware. It makes the product look so much better. We also put all live plants in the restaurant. Real palms."
Coming up soon are new drink glasses and the drinks that will be poured into them are certainly up to snuff, such as nice pinot noirs and dirty martinis.
"I also just brought in the sexiest martini glasses and champagne flutes. They're still in the boxes, because I need new racks for the dishwasher, so they won't break," says Marco. "They're imported from Italy. We got new mini martini shakers, too.
Voted the "Best Italian Restaurant on Maui" in last month's Best of Maui contest in this newspaper, Marco's is certainly living up to its reputation.
As for the food, we were impressed with the new menu items we sampled on a recent visit. Of course, it helped that the service was superb. Marti Fish was exemplary and took it to the next level.
I kid you not. Marco's is now a happening date-night place.
Fish lovers will now find fresh mahimahi piccata broiled with capers, onions, butter, lemon juice and an unusual twist of clam juice with tomato and fresh garlic over a bed of linguine.
Or you may order fresh mahimahi, grilled and served over a fresh cucumber, basil and tomato salad.
"All of our mahimahi is fresh," Marco says. "Since we've debuted the new dishes, we've tripled our sales. We're doing such a high volume, we get fresh fish deliveries pretty much daily."
My friends and I also thoroughly savored the new crab mac 'n cheese appetizer, and the Italian flat bread with tomato sauce, fresh basil, olive oil, and mozzarella and Romano cheeses. Between bites, my husband was able to watch the baseball game from his perch in the lounge.
"We have a whole bunch of new menu items," Marco enthuses. "Italian sausage flat breads. Pesto and feta flat breads. We just debuted oven-roasted chicken wings in a natural jus, French onion soup and Caprese salad with a prosciutto add-on option. All very affordable."
The list goes on. You may sink your teeth into turkey burger wraps, and beef burger wraps made from all-natural, grass-fed Maui Cattle Co. beef, and premium Black Angus all-beef hot dogs.
Lunch and dinner options are one and the same and new entrees are turkey Cobb salad, pesto pasta, shrimp with a pesto cream sauce, and pan-seared scallops with pasta Alfredo.
"We're really hoping this new menu and new look will continue to increase business and keep us rockin' and rollin' for years to come," says Marco.