My wife and I and another couple who joined us had a nice adventure at The Ginocchio restaurant in Marshall.
The drive from Longview was not as long as I thought it would be, culminating on a street that dead-ends at the Marshal Train Depot with the old Ginocchio Hotel to its left. The Ginocchio restaurant occupies most of the ground floor of this wonderful old historic building. The Ginocchio Hotel was built and designed by C.G. Lancaster in 1896 for Charles A. Ginocchio, so it is beautiful inside with a lot of the original wood still preserved. It is worth going just to see a glimpse of a beautifully preserved hotel.
The four of us had assumed the restaurant served Italian food because of its name, so we were surprised when we were presented with menus and learned the fare is more Louisiana style.
The first thing I always look at when presented with the menu is how clean it is. There were food smudges on mine.
I also like to look at the wine menu before I order my entree. I was impressed. It had a good mix of domestic wines, Italian, Spanish and French. I was even more impressed when I saw that the restaurant had Chateau Margaux, an excellent French wine. It was selling for more than $400 a bottle, which is actually a fair price. The restaurant also had some nice Ports for after dinner.
For appetizers, we had the Jumbo Crab Cake and Soup, the Grilled Quail, the Fried Artichokes and the Fried Asparagus.
The Crab Cakes were perfect. I visit Cape Cod — the heart of crab cakes country — once a year, and Ginocchio’s crab cakes were superb — moist, not dried out like some can be.
The artichokes on the menu are described as “Fried Artichokes,” but that gives the the wrong impression of the dish. The artichokes were served with a delicious sweet pimento cream sauce and lump crab meat. The Grilled Quail was actually charbroiled and topped with a Madeira demi-glace. It was equally delicious.
So perhaps I might suggest they rethink the title of the dishes.
For dinner, I had the Filet Mignon with three Jumbo Gulf Shrimp added to it. My three companions had the Skirt Steak, the blackened Salmon and the Pasta Jambalaya. The blackened salmon was cooked to perfection, and when I saw the Jambalaya, I wished I had ordered it. We all shared, though, so I was able to enjoy it, too.
The only complaint I had was that the Filet and the Jumbo Gulf Shrimp I ordered had a very salty sear on both which was too much at times. It was cooked to perfection, but the salt overwhelmed the flavor of the meat.
As for the service, everyone was attentive and eager to make sure our dining experience was excellent. Even the owner walked around to each table and visited for a bit. I always like that. It makes the patron feel more welcomed.
The staff could have used more training, though, on fine dining service, especially with the wine. If you are going to serve a nice wine then the staff should be trained on how to properly open a bottle of wine and pour it, and the restaurant should have a proper decanter. Our nice and eager-to-please waitress struggled to open the wine and then broke several rules of etiquette when it came to serving the wine.
For dessert, we had a wonderful bread pudding and a delicious berry sorbet, and, yes, I had the Crème Brulee. It was OK. The browning on the top was an odd color and way too evenly spread.
I loved Ginocchio’s and would go back again. I loved the atmosphere and the décor. I rate Ginocchio’s as an A minus. It just needs to fine tune the service, especially the wine service, and The Ginocchio could easily be an excellent fine dining A+ experience.