My wife and I spent a long weekend on Marco Island and got nothing but clouds, rain and cold weather. So, here's a report on the dining down there, which turned out to be our daily entertainment. Since we saw a number of previous posters looking for information, we thought this was the least we could do,
(By the way, we found tips for some of these places on previous posts).
Best Meal We Didn't Have
The consensus of everyone is that Tara's Steakhouse is the classiest place on the island, and they have live jazz and a singer on weekends. We didn't go there, but I thought some of you might wonder where a good place for a business meal might be.
We hit a number of the local spots, with varying results. Here's the rundown, from best to worst:
Gino's Olde Marco Trattoria. Great standard Italian, served in a modest place in a mall. (Then again, most Marco Island spots fit this description). The waitstaff was excellent, and Gino came out to visit the diners and welcome them. Make this a required visit, and tell Marco his friends from Massachusetts sent you. The veal saltimbocca was exceptional.
The Little Bar, Goodland
This spot is in a fishing village 2 minutes off Marco. The village is very humble, but the locals come in frequently and everyone knows their names. The food has earned the place a great reputation among all Marco Island types, though, and the fish was well conceived and prepared. The bar seems to get somewhat lively among locals.
Great, lively atmosphere. This place might be the most lively scene on the island, with live bands and comedians frequently showing up. The raw bar is small but well-prepared, and the bartended knew more about the oysters than we would have expected. Highly recommend this place if you want a more lively scene than the Little Bar.
Why the locals rave about this place, I don't know. It's a tourist trap with very overpriced food (including a little salad bar that the local oldsters seemed to enjoy) in mediocre digs. The place DOES have a great setting on the water and would be a good place to have drinks. Nothing special about the food.
This is a hole-in-the-wall bar (but located, of course, in a strip mall) that serves decent bar food and has a good (but small) bar scene. Cash only here. The place bills its oyster bar, but we didn't find the selection or the freshness anything to write home about. Burgers and buffalo wings would be a good bet here.
On Marco Island, this place is take-out only. (There is apparently a sit-down place in Naples). We took out some ribs and found them just OK, despite previous raves on the board and from our friends. The waiting line on Super Bowl Sunday was 40 minutes, and they didn't answer the phone from callers. That might be different on other days, though.
Cold food, poor service, really limited menu. Avoid.
Cathy O'Clark's Irish Bar and Restaurant
We left after 10 minutes when no one asked for our order.
As an interesting side note, we found the service in general on Marco Island to be lacking and strangely inattentive to customers. We entered several places -- restaurants, stores, etc. -- and discovered the staff talking on the phone, having conversations, readings books, searching in drawers, etc. and not stopping to ask whether they could help us. It was a little weird.