I was invited to try my hand at making (and, of course, tasting) a few cocktails, as well as sample the new menu. The experience reminded me of going out for birthday dinners and family celebrations when I was a kid – the spacious round booths, ambient lighting, and a comfortable setting has a nostalgic appeal, making Marcos a great place to catch up with loved ones over a hearty meal. The drinks In line with Marco’s American theme, we were treated to a cocktail masterclass. The friendly staff showed us how to make a few drinks off the new menu, which includes both traditional favourites and new features. As well as mixing and shaking up fruity spirits, we learned a little bit about the history of the glorious cocktail and how they became popular in America during the prohibition era, as people needed a way to make bootlegged booze taste good! And good they did taste – although the alcohol Marcos uses is a bit more upmarket than bathtub gin. We learned how to make Pornstar Martinis, Cosmopolitans, Azzuri Margaritas, Espresso Martinis, and English Gardens. The last was my favourite – a gin-based cocktail that Marcos gave their own unique twist to, the English Garden is sweet, refreshing, and dangerously easy-to-drink! We snacked while we sipped – martini olives were the perfect, slightly bitter accompaniment to the sweet drinks, while honey-covered nuts were like a delicious pre-meal dessert. The cheesy garlic pizza bread was both crispy and soft, with a rustic thin crust and irresistibly gooey mozzarella. The food We were presented with a huge spread of dishes from the new menu, including seafood, salads, ribs, and, of course, pasta. I snagged a few bits of calamari to start and was instantly impressed with the crispy, tender, perfectly salty combination – a good sign, as I’ve learned that if the calamari is tasty, you’re in for a winner. The quinoa salad is a modern take on the Italian-American theme, with all the American superfood trendiness of chia seeds, avocado, and toasted pumpkin seeds, coated in the classic combination of Italian balsamic vinegar and olive oil. A refreshing and vibrant dish, it had the perfect mix of sweetness and crunch, great for someone who wants a healthier alternative off a carbilicious menu. As I’m trying to stick to my vegetarian regime (apart from seafood, apparently), my friend kindly tucked into the meat dishes and reported back to me. Her favourite was the ribs, which were juicy, tender, and exactly what New York Italian should taste like. She was also a big fan of the chicken Caesar salad, where crunchy lettuce and croutons were paired with a generous heap of tender chicken breast and rich, creamy avocado. As you’d expect, Marcos nails the Italian-American classics. The onion rings were big, crispy, and beautifully battered, while the fries got the crunchy-but-soft ratio exactly right. But it was the focaccia bread that was the highlight for me – both doughy and spongy, it managed to be light and indulgent at the same time. I probably could eat an entire loaf of the stuff. The verdict The classy décor and the laid-back atmosphere gives Marcos a relaxed, upmarket feel, so you know you’re in for a good time as soon as you walk through the door. Pricewise, it’s even better than what you’d expect for a restaurant with the celebrity chef stamp, with plenty of budget-friendly options across the entire menu. It’s a great place to indulge in pizza, pasta, and an evening of laughs with friends and family, or to stop off for a few delicious cocktails and light bites before heading into town. Casual and comfortable, it’s got that unmistakable Marco Pierre White feel and just enough Italian-American edge to take you on a culinary adventure right in the heart of Leeds.