Taste of Marco is an event for the culinary-inclined. It’s a place where gastronomers, gourmands, and dare I say, foodies, come together and do what they do best: eat.
The annual affair, now in its 28th year, brings together a handful of local restaurants to the Esplanade on Marco Island. There the eateries prepare and serve their best sample-sized dishes in the hopes of winning the People’s Choice award, Judge’s Choice, Best Presentation, Best Decoration, Best Bite or Best Overall. Proceeds from Taste of Marco benefit the Greater Marco Family YMCA scholarship fund.
The warm spring day brought a large crowd eager to eat, drink, and be merry. Attendees strolled from tent to tent, visiting their local favorites and trying out new spots. Music from the Greg Miller Band played across the Esplanade courtyard, providing groovy tunes and audience favorites.
The restaurants ranged in culinary style and presentation. Chop 239 served sesame-seared tuna over a bed of fresh greens. The SpeakEasy, on the other hand, offered guests hearty Reuben sliders, teriyaki meatballs, and sweet chili boneless wings. For the vegetarians out there, the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort’s restaurant 400 Pazzi’s had an English pea bruschetta with whipped ricotta, micro mint, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil. For the meat eaters, they offered a crispy prosciutto bruschetta.
Nico’s Kitchen provided traditional Greek favorites such as gyros, spanakopita, and Greek salad. Longtime Marco Island restaurant, Verdi’s, served pork pot stickers with hoisin sauce. And for those with a sweet tooth, the Southwest Florida Event Center had a tower of rich, homemade cupcakes and other delicious treats.
Though each restaurant served up unique and delicious fare, only a few could take home the coveted titles. In the end, Best Presentation was awarded to Nico’s Kitchen. Mangos Dockside Bistro took home the People’s Choice award with their fried fish tacos. Chop 239 was awarded Best Bite. Best Decoration went to the Southwest Florida Event Center and the Island Country Club was named Judges’ Choice. The Marco Island Yacht Club won Best Overall.