A SOUTHAMPTON restaurant is carving itself a reputation after winning a prestigious culinary award.

Marco’s Restaurant now holds an AA Rosette.

The nationwide scheme for judging food ‘celebrates successful cooking and is a huge achievement’.

Owner Marco Bertacchini wants his eatery in Oxford Street to be the ‘go-to Italian restaurant in Southampton’.

The 46-year-old said: “I Feel brilliant. I think it’s a great achievement in Southampton. I think it’s a great achievement for the team. It’s not an easy task. There has been a lot of research and hard work in the kitchen.”

Daily Echo: The team at Marco's Restaurant. Marco Bertacchini (centre)The team at Marco's Restaurant. Marco Bertacchini (centre) (Image: Daily Echo)

He said: “[The property] Came available between first and second lockdowns. I just risked it and then worked very hard since then really.”

With its plush interior and sophisticated bar, Marco sources from local butchers and fishmongers (and some Italian imports).

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The menu offers a range of classics from his country of birth such as carbonara, arancini, risotto and pasta dishes.

There is a list of 55 wines and 27 by the glass.

Daily Echo: Marco's Restaurant in Oxford Street, SouthamptonMarco's Restaurant in Oxford Street, Southampton (Image: Daily Echo)

After the covid lockdowns, Marco says “people were spending money left, right and centre”.

“Then it became settled. In the last year people are not spending as much and they’re not coming out as much, and that’s why we thought let’s do something, let’s have a goal. Let’s do something that is slightly different, a bit more authentic,” he added.

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Speaking about the award process, Marco said: “You put an application forward for the restaurant to be assessed and then you wait until someone turns up.

“I was quite worried because these people, they came, and they left all the food.

“And at the end of the meal this person wants to speak to you.”

Daily Echo: Marco BertacchiniMarco Bertacchini (Image: Daily Echo)

Unbeknown to Marco, it was an inspector ‘very happy’ to give an award “Arancini, fish as a main and she had a panna cotta as a dessert – she looked at different elements in the food,” he said.

The restaurateur came to the UK to learn English in the 90s.

Now almost thirty years on, he lives in Southampton with his wife and three children.

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He added: “I’ve grown up in Bologna. Food was all around me. My dad was a butcher, and my mum had a deli. We made fresh pasta. So [we had] meats, cured meats, fresh, local ingredients.”

“I haven’t trained as a chef. I like to cook. I’ve got a passion for food."

Ultimately, Marco says the goal now is to maintain what the restaurant has achieved.

He wants people to come back praising the service, staff and food.

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