Excellent Italian in Indio
BY TRACY DIETLIN
Charli Marrone’s Italian Bar and Grill has quickly become a favorite of Indio residents—and is well worth the drive for those who dwell in other desert cities.
Charli and her husband, Gary Brown, are two of the nicest restaurant owners in town; they made us feel comfortable, like they were inviting us into their home.
Full disclosure: I originally stopped in to talk to them about advertising, and while there, we decided to have dinner. Therefore, this can’t be read as a typical restaurant review.
We were immediately seated in a cozy booth in the back, where we were able to observe the rest of the tables, yet have an intimate dinner. The décor features cherry wood and black leather, which gives the restaurant an upscale feel. A large window area shows off the cooks working in the kitchen. While we were seated in the restaurant section, right around the corner was a large sports-bar area with a full bar and big-screen TVs.
Our attentive waiter, Adam Rodriguez, took our drink orders and returned quickly with my glass of Aquinas cabernet, which was lovely, and my husband’s Jack-and-Coke. I was surprised that we weren’t given menus—and was wowed when an array of food began arriving at our table. First came a plate of breads and butter, along with the best bruschetta I’ve ever had. My husband, who’s Italian, is quite picky when it comes to certain Italian fare, and this won him over. Thin slices of bread—lightly toasted with fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic—sat on a bed of baby greens drizzled with a tasty balsamic vinaigrette.
Next to arrive was a filet Mignon, accompanied by mashed potatoes and asparagus; all of it was perfectly prepared. I don’t expect to have steaks this amazing without being at an actual steakhouse, but when I say this meat melted in my mouth, I mean it.
Arriving at the same time was Charli’s famous cioppino, with mussels, clams, grilled shrimp and salmon on linguini in a mildly spiced red sauce; it was delicious. We enjoyed sharing both of these dishes—and before we had finished, lasagna and vegetarian pizza were placed in front of us. We made room for both, and I was quite pleased, even though I am also not easily impressed when it comes to Italian fare. The lasagna had just the right blend of meat, cheese and sauce. The next day, I found myself thinking about the pizza; it was that good.
You would think that we couldn’t eat any more food, but I saw an iceberg wedge delivered to the table next to us, and it looked amazing—so I had to try it. Of course, our server was most accommodating, and it was served right away. This wedge was large enough for two to share, boasting tomatoes, real bacon and the best homemade bleu-cheese dressing I’ve had. It was so tasty that I finished the whole salad (while wondering if I would be able to walk to the car afterward).
Just as we were getting our second wind, we were surprised to see dessert—tiramisu for me, and a caramel chocolate-fudge brownie with ice cream for my husband—delivered to our table. The tiramisu was one of the two best I’ve had in this town. (The other was at Palomino’s, which is now closed.) Delicious!
I decided that Charli Marrone’s Italian Bar and Grill would be the perfect place to have our first CV Weekly Mixer. After all, the restaurant features excellent food, awesome service, hospitality and a fantastic ambience.
Charli Marrone’s also has live entertainment on most weekends, and Frankie Orlando performs solo on Friday nights. I recommend this restaurant for a romantic dinner, an everyday meal, or a great place to watch a game.
Charli Marrone’s Italian Bar and Grill is located at 42250 B. Jackson St., Suite 101, in Indio. For more information, call (760) 625-1500, or visit www.charlimarronesitalianbarandgrill.com.