“Simple food done right” is the mantra at Maia, the new main restaurant at Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, says Senior Sous Chef Joseph Pankrath.
The restaurant opened in August 2015 at the Marco Island hotel, located half an hour south of Naples, as part of a major renovation and upbranding to JW Marriott, which will be completed by Jan. 1, 2017.
The transformation of the space is stunning, turning it into a light, bright and open restaurant of organic materials, in keeping with the resort’s Balinese inspiration.
A new look for the Marriott's main restaurant, Maia — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Blonde woods, white rock walls, faux wood tile floors, basket-weave chairs and, to come, chandeliers modeled after Polynesian fishing baskets decorate Maia. Communal tables, booths and four-tops fill the dining room and spill out to the porch, embraced by sea breezes.
At the dining room’s far end, the breakfast buffet occupies a nook hung with blackboards. One advertises its $5 Bloody Mary bar, crammed with jars of pickled condiments and bottles of hot sauce with three types of tomato juice.
Breakfasters have their choice of a continental or hot buffet, the latter including an omelet station.
A la carte breakfasts are also available, including signatures such as house-made corned beef hash with meaty chunks, poached eggs and grain mustard hollandaise sauce and Nutella-stuffed French toast made with brioche, raspberry preserves and almond anglaise.
Maia's Bloody Mary bar — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
One menu covers lunch and dinner, a succinct listing of dishes driven by ingredients sourced locally.
For starters, there are a crab fondue made with aged gruyere and triple cream brie served with pretzel bread; smoked shrimp mac 'n' cheese with boursin and mozzarella; pork poutine with stout braised pork shoulder and pork gravy; kale Caesar salad; and a farmer's salad tossed with everything from lettuce and avocado to fingerling potatoes and green beans.
Three sandwiches reach above expectations: the lamb BLT comes on grilled naan with tzatziki and heirloom tomatoes; avocado and chipotle mayo dress the crispy chicken sandwich on a brioche; and the Maia Burger features the resort’s dry-aged beef, onion jam, cambozola cheese (a combination of French triple cream cheese and gorgonzola) and horseradish on a pretzel roll.
Bright and airy at Maia — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Entrees most succinctly show off the resort’s commitment to local ingredients and creative flairs.
The grouper asado, for example, showcases local fish served with chorizo cassoulet. The clams in the tagliatelle dish come from Florida’s Cedar Keys fishery, prepared on a bed of pasta and flecked with pepper bacon.
Meat dishes include grass-fed hanger steak with scallion hash and mushroom fricassee, as well as cider brined pork chop with a bourbon and maple glaze, onion jam and warm fingerling potatoes and bacon salad.
Four dessert selections finish the meal with fanfare. Try the Chocolate Decadence – a flourless, milk chocolate cake – or the Bourbon Vanilla Cheesecake made with local strawberries.