Generously topped with parmesan cheese, Marcello's lasagna exemplifies a non-tomato version of this classic dish. | Courtesy of Mitchell Friedman

Generously topped with parmesan cheese, Marcello’s lasagna exemplifies a non-tomato version of this classic dish. | Courtesy of Mitchell Friedman

It is easy for me to let my diet take the back burner as I muddle through another challenging week at Emory. Comfort food is the perfect countermeasure to the week’s stress. Much to my chagrin, however, the “Comfort” station at the DUC is often a bit of a misnomer. That’s when I flock to Marcello’s to get some Italian food that tastes homemade. A simple ride on Emory’s ‘A’ or ‘Executive Park’ shuttles to Emory Point will drop you in front of an overwhelming variety of local flavor. However, Marcello’s will beckon you in with their generous daily specials and large menu. You can find all of the classics: pasta, calzones, stromboli, subs and, of course, pizza.

I stopped for lunch after my morning classes, and was greeted with the piquant smell of marinara wafting through the air. The dining room maintains an authentic, yet casual atmosphere (It is difficult to forget this casual atmosphere with a toy train whirring above your head). As I perused the menu, my nose alerted me to toasted garlic bread arriving at my table. It was flavorful, but not overwhelmingly garlicky, baked on a toasted baguette and adorned with parmesan cheese. It was soft with an unmistakable crunch.

The pasta of the day was lasagna, a non-tomato version of the classic dish. The plate was composed of lasagna noodles layered with chicken and spinach topped with a puff pastry. To finish the entrée, the whole thing was drizzled with a lemon alfredo sauce. As a lunch special, it came with my choice of salad or soup. I had the caesar salad.

The last time I visited Marcello’s was a chilly day back in November. I had the baked ziti with the house salad  sensational. The mozzarella cascaded over the noodles evenly with a perfect mixture of ricotta and meat sauce incorporated inside. Ordering that dish was the perfect way to counteract the comings of winter.

I finished the last of the garlic bread and happily moved on to my caesar salad. It was fairly basic: romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese and caesar dressing. The croutons were the highlight: crunchy and flavorful cubes were generously distributed throughout the salad. Unfortunately, the dressing was bitter and goopy. Although a little pepper solved the problem, I recommend sticking to a house salad instead.

Five minutes after I finished my salad, the lasagna arrived. It looked and smelled terrific. The puff pastry was golden and the spinach and chicken complemented the noodles perfectly. I took a bite and was overwhelmed by the alfredo sauce. The lemon flavor interrupted the rich, earthy tones of the rest of the dish. However, the lasagna itself was delicate and savory, the spinach complementing the puff pastry. By the time I finished the dish, I was stuffed from the generous portion. Marcello’s is consistently good, yet they truly excel with their classic Italian dishes. Those looking for a quick break from their studies should come give Marcello’s a try.

4 Stars