Mario’s Italian Restaurant Provides Fresh, Handcrafted Meals Both Conveniently, and at a Great Value

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Using the drive-up window at Mario’s Italian Restaurant is unlike any experience available in the local food industry. Vehicles start pulling up at 11:00 am, looking for a late-morning espresso or early lunch. Like a traditional call-ahead food pick-up, customers call about 20 minutes ahead to ensure they receive fresh, made-to-order food. But unlike the traditional call-ahead food pick-up, customers never have to leave their car. For busy commuters, moms with vans full of children, or anyone who is caught in inclement weather, this is a game changer.

Mario’s drive-up window is a game changer.

The convenience might almost make customers wonder if the food is also “fast” in the pre-prepared sense. But it’s not. In the kitchen at Mario’s, everything is made from scratch, down to the salad dressings and mozzarella cheese. Along with the owners, John and Martha Fisichello, Chef Craig Gillenwalters has over 30 years experience in the Italian restaurant business.

He has learned the importance of creating homemade dishes from meats and vegetables that are prepared daily and never frozen. And Mario’s Italian Restaurant is always experimenting with new recipes. Craig finds fresh ideas to bring to the table. The menu is thoroughly reviewed a couple of times a year to evaluate which dishes are becoming customer favorites and which items need to move aside to allow the community to try something different. And for those who are avoiding gluten, not only are many of the regular menu items naturally gluten free, Mario’s is also able to prepare gluten free pizza and pasta.

In addition to the regular menu, seasonal ingredients and dishes are often featured through the daily “Chef’s Special.” These special creations add variety and an element of surprise to each visit. Chili may be sold during football season, or additional types of salad may be found in the spring. And nightly specials can be counted on, six days a week. Monday is Burger Night, Tuesday is Brick Oven Pizza, Wednesday is Parm Night, Thursday is Steak Night, Friday features both Lasagna and Specialty Cocktails, and Saturday brings $25 Prime Rib Au Jus.

Mimosas at Mario’s

“In my opinion, we have the best prime rib in Charlotte,” John said. He explained that the Prime Rib is freshly cut to order after it’s been slow roasted for 24 hours. Craig added that a 20 ounce Prime Rib would usually sell for much more at other restaurants. John agreed that the food at Mario’s is an overall great value. “Top quality food and service and portions. That’s what the customer is looking for, and that’s what we deliver.”

While Mario’s originally started out as a pizza place, the new Mario’s Italian Restaurant offers a lot more in the way of high-end dishes, such as pork chops, salmon, and filet mignon. Yet it’s upscale food in a cozy atmosphere. Mario’s retains its family feel. And over in the adjoining John’s Place, an adult’s only area which serves off the same menu, a couple may enjoy an elegant date night meal while singles relax with their friends over appetizers and sports related banter.

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Sunday brunch is another popular event at Mario’s. Brunch runs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Both lunch and breakfast menu items are offered. Bottomless Bellinis and Mimosas start at noon. And among the usual brunch fare, some original dishes shine. Mario’s has Eggs Benedict, served over a biscuit instead of an English muffin. Shrimp Carpaccio is a scampi-like dish that stays within breakfast parameters. And on holidays, such as Mother’s Day and Easter, a Prime Rib carving station appears. Soon John plans on adding a brunch buffet.

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And catering has become a big part of what Mario’s is known for. Always active in the community as members of local business organizations and clubs, now the Fisichellos have started providing food for events, such as the Union County Gala. And they cater weddings all the time.

Mario’s Italian Restaurant offers an unparalleled dining experience that blends quality and convenience. Customers can enjoy a family meal at Mario’s Italian Restaurant, or experience an adult getaway at John’s Place (which is open one hour later than Mario’s every night) from 11 am to 10 pm Mondays through Thursdays, 11 am to 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays, or 10 am to 10 pm on Sundays at their location in Chestnut Arbor at 2945 Matthews Weddington Road. And on days when a trip to the drive-up window won’t even fit in the schedule, there’s always Mario’s delivery service.

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Annie Beth Donahue lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina with her husband Brad, and four children. She is a professional writer for both the web and print, and she can be found at

Annie Beth also has a bachelor's degree in music therapy from Queens University of Charlotte, and has either been working with or parenting children with special needs for the past 18 years. She is a children's book author and the founder and president of Signposts Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves families that have children with chronic health problems or disabilities. In her non-working time, she homeschools and oversees the children's care of their small menagerie made up of chickens, two donkeys, a dog, a cat, and a snake.