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updated: 11/16/2010 10:19 AM

Fresh Italian dishes highlight Algonquin bistro

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  • Mario and Melisa Arevalo recently opened Mel & Mar's Bistro in Algonquin. The restaurant, which is primarily carryout, features Italian specialties.

       Mario and Melisa Arevalo recently opened Mel & Mar's Bistro in Algonquin. The restaurant, which is primarily carryout, features Italian specialties.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Mario and Melisa Arevalo recently opened Mel & Mar's Bistro in Algonquin. It is on Algonquin Road, just west of Randall.

       Mario and Melisa Arevalo recently opened Mel & Mar's Bistro in Algonquin. It is on Algonquin Road, just west of Randall.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 

When the produce arrives at Mel and Mar's Bistro to Go, you're likely to see chef Mario Arevalo inspecting each piece closely.

And if it's not up to par, you're likely to see him yelling at the delivery guy to take it back and get something better.

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That's because Arevalo, who recently opened Mel and Mar's in Algonquin, just off the Randall Road corridor, takes pride in his work.

He uses only the freshest of ingredients in his food, and cooks it to perfection for his guests.

"I take pride in cooking everything to order with the freshest ingredients," he said.

The restaurant, which is named after Mario and his wife Melissa, opened this month, and already, he said, they have regulars who are coming back for the food he's cooking.

Arevalo, who grew up and spent many years cooking in Chicago, lives in Lake in the Hills now.

He said he got tired of the food offerings from non-sit-down restaurants, and decided to open his own place to help fill the culinary void in the area.

"I got tired of eating at Burger King," he joked. "We're kind of limited as to what we can eat out here when it's something to grab and go. It's pretty much Burger King and Taco Bell. We need more of these mom and pop type restaurants."

Mel and Mar's is mainly a carryout restaurant, with seating for about 20 inside.

"We're pretty quick, and it's the same thing you can get at Tuscany or Rosebud or Maggiano's or somewhere like that without the waiters, the bus boys, the 18 cooks, the dishwashers," he said.

And, he added, it's all cooked fresh daily, and you can tell the difference.

He cooks the black beans right in the kitchen each day.

The marinara sauce has an orange tint because it's cooked from fresh Roma tomatoes each day, he added.

So, he said, if you hear him yelling at the delivery guy, it's because he takes pride in his work, and wants to offer his guests only the best.

When you head into the restaurant, you place your order, and then you can see it being made right before your eyes in the open kitchen in back.

"It's a complete show from the flames and the pots and pans flying," he said. "You see everything."

Arevalo said he also takes special requests. For example, if you want one of his specialties, but without onions, he'll make it for you that way.

"It's the personal touch here," he said. "I take a lot of pride in what I do," he said.

"We're trying to encourage the community to come and try us at least once and see what you think," he said. "I don't think anyone in the area is doing what we're doing."

To stop in, visit 2761 W. Algonquin Road, Algonquin. For information call (847) 854-4200.

Indoor planting: Platt Hill Nursery is rounding out its year of seminars and events focusing on plants, planting, herbs and more with a workshop this weekend.

For this session, the nursery along Randall Road in Carpentersville, is focusing on container gardening.

This is part four of the container gardening workshop, and will focus on winter planting. The other container workshops focused on cool container planting, warm container planting and fall container gardening.

This session begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20.

For information call (847) 428-6767.

Candle light: Yankee Candle along Randall Road in Geneva Commons is hosting an open house this weekend.

From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 20, guests can stop into the store to check out all of the holiday merchandise at the open house.

Each guest also will receive one free votive candle, with a limit of one per guest.

• Amy Williams' column covers all the news of business along the Randall Road corridor from Batavia to Crystal Lake. Contact her at randallbiz@comcast.net or (847) 894-5036.

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