Marios restaurant is located within the grounds of the Sandals Halcyon resort in St Lucia, approximately 10 minutes drive from the island’s capital Castries.
It can cater for around 100 covers but works to a booking system so it’s always best to check in advance if you’re looking to take along a lot of friends. It’s part of the all-inclusive Sandals deal at this beach resort so it is likely that your fellow diners will be guests at this resort too.
Dress code is resort formal, meaning, for men, long trousers and a shirt – basically no shorts, t-shirts, vest tops, flip flops or sandals. Use common sense and you won’t go wrong! It is an indoor restaurant and is air-conditioned therefore an extremely comfortable place to escape the humid night temperatures of 20+ degrees.
The decor is just right for this type of establishment and they’ve done a good job of saying this is an Italian restaurant, leaving all the usual beach style decor outside. Similarly, the choice of piped ‘muzac’, something I’m not normally a huge fan of in restaurants was spot on the money, with some nice classical opera playing gently in the background.
Now to the staff. Please don’t be put off by the restaurant manager Dora. She comes across as ‘full on’ with an almost scripted intro, before launching into the specials, then checking you’re OK, before arranging for a waiter to arrive at the table to take a drinks order. She means well and is a very capable host indeed, and I have no doubt that she simply wants her customers to have the best experience possible.
A small word of warning here, you don’t have to order a bottle of wine at extra cost. With the all-inclusive deal, you can simply choose to drink the house white or red.
The staff who waited on us were all very competent, professional young men and women, knowledgeable about the menu as well as being exceptionally friendly and helpful.
Starters are selected from a vast range of antipasti on display buffet style and include meats, fruits, breads, and vegetables. I could go on to name them, however, space for this review precludes that – there’s simply too many to list, and, if I’m being honest, you could easily make a meal out of these buffet dishes alone.
If that wasn’t enough, there are two soups also on offer, a minestrone and a soup of the day. I tried the minestrone, which to me, was more like a goulash than a thinner tomato-based vegetable and pasta soup we are used to here in the UK. That said, it was delicious, and I liked it better than our version! It was more homely, rustic just like your Italian grandma would make – if you actually had one!
The main menu then contains a mixed selection of typically Italian fare, pasta, steaks, fish and vegetarian dishes. All fine stuff, and on my first visit we ate from this menu and had no complaints whatsoever. However, after speaking with chef ‘Marco’ – (Mark Lain) requesting he make me a dish containing my favourite ingredient, king prawns, we rebooked to return for a second visit.
And did I mention, the food was so good, we then rebooked for yet a third go-round too?
So to the dishes. I’ll list these as it’s probably easier that way.
Prawns with broccoli, papaya salsa,
spinach with chicken, and curried coconut
carpaccio gratin with avocado and a coconut mayonnaise
Scallops in a carbonara pasta salsa
Spaghetti with prawns al cartoccio
Linguini with shrimps, almond shavings and sweet apple
Surf and turf with a coulis of orange flavoured pumpkin
Beef Boscaiola with red radish and blue cheese and a rosemary-infused cake
Millefeuille with strawberry’s and Grand Marnier cream
Chocolate cake with a rosemary-infused apple, pineapple and a white chocolate garnish
I could go into detail about every dish and bore the life out of you, however, I’m going to compress this down into a few choice paragraphs about the cooking abilities of this chef. Frankly, he’s wasted cooking a standard table d’hote menu night after night when he has such obvious talents. This is a chef who could easily command one Michelin star, and while working up to that would doubtless gather many other AA and Relais & Châteaux, awards. That’s the standard of cooking available in this establishment. It really is on point, using the finest of local ingredients, cooked to perfection with an obvious love by a chef who knows what fine dining is all about.
His flavour and texture combinations are simply stunning and create an explosion of delight on the taste buds, so much so, that on both my second and third visits, the chefs choice of dishes were brought to the table without any prior discussion. I wanted to see the mark of the man when left to do his own thing in the kitchen – and boy did he pull it off big time.
If you happen to be taking a holiday at Sandals Halcyon don’t miss out on the opportunity of sampling some of what must be the best Italian food available on St Lucia.