Good Italian Fare at Marina’s On The Square

I’ve been meaning to visit Marina’s On The Square in Murfreesboro for quite some time now. Several of my coworkers mentioned that it was “really good” but I just never found the time to go with Haley; after all driving to Murfreesboro for dinner isn’t a quick trip. After a suggestion by Marty that we could go for lunch, I decided I’ve been putting it on hold for way too long. So for Wednesday’s lunch, Marty, Mike, and I were off to Marina’s On The Square.

Marina's On The SquareHence the name, Marina’s On The Square is located in the downtown courthouse square area of Murfreesboro. Story has it that Marina’s was opened in 1992 and is named after the original owners’ (John and Cindy Polverino) eldest daughter. In 1998, Doug and Suzanne Duross purchased Marina’s On The Square from the Polverinos and have owned & operated it ever since.

Marina's On The SquareMarina’s On The Square is a restaurant that is far from fancy. Along the perimeter of the restaurant you’ll find seating ranging from tabletops to booth seating with vinyl tablecloths. Despite the bland decor, this Murfreesboro favorite has some personality… especially in its food.

The menu itself is quite long. In this list is your typical Italian American menu with appetizers, salads, soups, and entrees separated by the type of meat. In addition, you have a vegetarian menu as well as various calzones and pizzas. Most items at Marina’s range anywhere from the $4 for small salads and soups to near $20 for the seafood entrees. On top of all that, they do have lunch and dinner specials available every day.

BreadI ended up ordering the lunch special of the “Meaty Lasagna” ($8.59), which comes with your choice of a soup or salad. I opted for their specialty soup, the “Italian Sausage and Potato”. I also added the child’s fettuccine alfredo ($2.95).

With every visit at Marina’s, you get a loaf bread as a simple appetizer. Served with small packets of butter, the bread arrived fresh out of the oven and extremely soft, almost like white sandwich bread. Despite the simplistic taste of the bread, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Italian Sausage and Potato SoupAs the name implies, The “Italian Sausage and Potato” soup at Marina’s is made primarily with chunks of Italian sausage and potato in a cream-based broth. To me, this soup reminded me of the “Zuppa Toscana” soup served at Olive Garden. The only difference is that Olive Garden adds additional vegetables of diced onion and shredded kale. The Zuppa Toscana” soup is one of my favorites, so I was pleasantly surprised to have the same kind of flavors in Marina’s soup.

Fettuccine AlfredoAs for my entrees, the fettuccine alfredo and the lasagna came out at the same time. The main reason I added the fettuccine alfredo is because that’s Haley’s favorite Italian dish. By testing it first, I could tell whether or not she would like it. The second reason was to have more content for this review.

Trying the fettuccine alfredo first, I was a bit disappointed. For the most part, it was the right consistency but the alfredo sauce was very gritty. It was almost as if the sauce was made with the Kraft’s Grated Parmesan cheese you get at your local grocer. It would have been much better had they made the sauce with real Parmesan cheese.

Meaty LasagnaAlthough the fettuccine was nothing to write home about, Marina’s lasagna was amazing. Served in an oval bowl, the lasagna was served in a hefty 4″ square portion topped with additional marinara sauce, cheese, and parsley. The lasagna had the perfect balance of cheese, meat, pasta, and vegetables that was apparent in every bite. I especially liked the topping of additional marinara sauce on top because when you cook lasagna, the tomato sauce gets mixed in with the juices from the meat. While this meat-tomato mixture is delicious, especially for dipping, you lose some of that tomato flavor. The marinara brought back a tangy, tomato kick to the entree.

As for the cons of Marina’s On The Square, the service could use some work. Our server was dubbed “space cadet” by Mike because he thought the service was rather sketchy. I was told that the service is hit or miss at Marina’s. Also, the pricing was a little high in comparison to other Italian restaurants of the same caliber. Subtracting my child’s fettuccine would have made my meal (including drink & tax) at around $11.40. Quite a bit pricey for lunch and I would have expected to pay that much for dinner instead.

With the cons aside, I enjoyed my first experience at Marina’s On The Square. I found the food to be very delicious and filling; especially the lasagna and the soup. It was so good in fact, I would definitely return to try their other entrees. After all, there’s a reason it’s highly touted as one of Murfreesboro’s best kept secrets.

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Marina’s On The Square
125 North Maple Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
(615) 849-8881

Bill Total: $14.63

Marina's on the Square on Urbanspoon

Food:4.0/5.0 ★★★★☆ 
Service:2.5/5.0 ★★½☆☆ 
Atmosphere:4.0/5.0 ★★★★☆ 
Price:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 
Overall:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 

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