Mario’s Restaurant in Lake George

It was a Friday night, June 1992. My friend Rob and I were just down from the top of Prospect Mountain where we had seen the fireworks and laser light show, the highlight of the Americade motorcycle rally. It was about 45 degrees, raining and we were soaked, cold, nearly drowned rats, disheveled and shivering.

Rob rode us up to the back door of the restaurant – I hadn’t caught the name of it, but it looked warm, and that’s all I cared about. Hobbling in wearing a rain suit that was every bit as wet inside as out, I thought of several young ladies wearing short shorts and t-shirts we had seen on our ride down the mountain, and wondered if they had survived.

My musings were cut short by a welcoming smile, and an offer to hang up our wet things before we were shown to a table. The aromas floating about did a great deal to make me forget about the cold and look forward to the dinner in store.monroe_MariosLakeGeorge-4877

This was my introduction to Mario’s, a Lake George landmark at the North end of town. Mario’s has been a single family owned business for 64 years, serving the best in American and Italian fare right up to (and including) last week, when we marked our 26’th visit, and it is a treat every time.

The warm welcome remains just the same as it was way back then. Some faces have changed, but I believe that the Maître Dame was the very same person who welcomed us in 1992. The staff is engaging, wanting to learn where we are from and sharing some of their lives as well. What was unusual is that the staff appears completely comfortable with each other – truly a family.

Last week I wrote about the Tamarack Inn and our waitress Tina. I found out that Tina is now working at Mario’s, and was positively gushing about how warm and welcoming the staff was to her.

monroe_MariosLakeGeorge-4878Maybe that’s part of the magic. Great food and warm family feeling all around.

Our waitress Janet, her first day back after several years of family time gave us extraordinary service – apologizing for not having the entire menu, specials and details at the ready – but that was minor. Her smile was radiant – like she had just returned to where she belonged.

The appetizers were everything we had hoped for, Calamari done perfectly – and stuffedmonroe_MariosLakeGeorge-4880 mushrooms with lots of yummy bits of cheese and bacon inside generous sized portobello caps. My main course was their Shrimp Terzetto; shrimp prepared 3 distinct ways I’m glad I ordered that particular dish, because I don’t know if I could have chosen between the scampi, the parmigiana or pomodoro. They were ALL exceptional.

No room left for dessert tonight, but there’s always next time. Our check, which included 2 glasses of wine each came out to about $132, which included a very generous tip for exceptional service. I even handed Janet a $20 bill personally in addition to the check – she was that good.

On the way out, we stopped at the Maître Dame’s station to tell them that for the last 26 years, Mario’s never disappoints, and that we were served exceptionally well. I know you will be too.

Next time you’re in the Capital Region, make the special trip up to Lake George for a memorable evening at Mario’s. It’s a hike, but still well within reach!

Visit www.marioslakegeorge for more information.

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