Marcella’s Italian Kitchen fails to impress

I’m really stoked with the new additions to Fashion Square Mall, since it’s my favorite shopping destination and is one of my fave places to get a bite. I’ve always loved the reverse happy hour special at Kona Grill and the late-night dining options at Yard House, but this weekend I tried the recently opened Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, right next to the gorgeous Modern Steak.

The interior sort of reminded me of Maggiano’s, a Little Italy atmosphere mob bosses would feel at home at.

We sat on the heater-filled patio, which was nice and toasty. Our server was excellent, and the rest of the staff was friendly.

The food, on the other hand, was less than stellar. I always appreciate complimentary bread and olive oil at Italian restaurants, but the bread didn’t seem freshly baked, and the olive oil was generic.

My Marcella’s Chopped Salad ($3.95) was pretty good, since it was a generous portion, had lots of grape tomatoes and was full of dark greens. But the creamy Italian dressing wasn’t as good as ranch, which wasn’t available.

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I love pizza, but I opted to try the Penne Alla Vodka ($12.95). The pasta was way too garlic-y and not creamy enough. Compared to other vodka pastas I’ve had, it was less than mediocre.

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My pal got pizza. I didn’t try it, but it was a stiff, flatbread style that I’m not a fan of. I’m actually thankful I got the pasta.

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We ordered tiramisu ($6.95) for dessert, and it was a huge serving big enough for four people. Lucky us. It tasted fine and was super-creamy, but I have a nagging suspicion it wasn’t handmade.

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The atmosphere was peaceful, but it didn’t make up for the food. I’ll probably just go back to Kona Grill next time.