Mario's Offers Plenty of Italian Food Options

Palm Desert location sets itself apart from family chain of restaurants

Chicken Piccata comes with a side of spaghetti marinara at Mario's Palm Desert, one of seven locations in the Coachella Valley.

Courtesy of Mario’s Italian Café

Mario’s Italian Café has locations in cities throughout the Coachella Valley. But if you thought all of those restaurants were created equal, you’re in for a surprise when you dine at the newest incarnation just down the road from the Westfield Palm Desert mall.

You’ll still find the same huge menu filled with Italian specialties, and walls hand painted with beautiful murals — the ones in Palm Desert depict scenes of the Amalfi Coast — that local artist Allison Mason has done for several of the restaurants.

But the Palm Desert café also has a separate banquet room that holds up to 80 people. Dubbed the Venetian Room, it’s decorated with colorful murals of Venice landmarks.

“This location also has a full bar and lounge area rather than just a main dining room,” says Peter Del Guidice, one of founder Mario Del Guidice’s sons. (Peter and his brother, Matthew, flank Mario in the large “Father & Sons To Serve You” photo you’ll see on the back wall of the restaurant.)

“We make everything — soups, sauces, meatballs, sausages, pizza dough — fresh on the premises,” adds Del Guidice. “So we offer a home-cooked meal, but we don’t charge a lot. You can enjoy almost anything on our menu for between $10 and $15 a person.”

And as Del Guidice pointed out to me, you have a lot of options to choose from. Mario’s Special pizza, which has everything on it — sausage, onion, black olives, mushroom, green pepper and pepperoni — is a good place to start.

“Our most popular seafood item is Cioppino, with mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, and fish,” says Del Guidice. “It’s quite a dish.”

My friend and I went the traditional route — he ordered a flavorful, perfectly-cooked chicken piccata that came with a side of spaghetti marinara, while I couldn’t resist the draw of a big bowl of spaghetti topped with an equally large, fork-tender homemade meatball.

Del Guidice says their most requested pasta dish is the baked mostaccioli made with sausage, beef, garlic, fresh basil, mozzarella and ricotta cheese.

“It’s like lasagna,” he says, “but all tossed up together.”

“We also offer what we call our heavyweight contender because we refer to it as a half plate of food, but it really leans more toward a full serving. And all of those selections are $9.95 or less,” says Del Guidice. “It’s been the most popular category on our menu.”

The popularity of the new location is also gaining steam. “We greet customers every day who tell us how glad they are that we’re now here in the area,” says Del Guidice.

Mario’s Italian Café, 73155 Highway 111, Palm Desert, (760) 341-1130

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Desert Guide
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Best Bets for Easter Brunch in the Greater Palm Springs Area

Making plans for Easter Brunch? Here are a few suggestions on places to book on one of the busiest Sundays of the year in the Greater Palm Springs area.

Signature Selections

With the arrival of several new chefs and restaurateurs in the valley, we took the opportunity to go straight into the kitchen and get the inside scoop on some of the desert’s latest and greatest must-try dishes.

Good Libations

Loads of atmosphere, specialty drinks, and a niche vibe define the desert’s best bars.

Valley Winners

Local restaurants and bars bring in a wide range of awards and praise.

May I Recommend …

To help make your dining decisions easier, we asked local concierges where they suggest going for various tastes and occasions. The catch? Our experts couldn’t recommend their own establishments.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Edit ModuleShow Tags