Marco Polo gets facelift: Major makeover for classic Italian eatery

The owners of a legendary Italian restaurant are saying “Ciao!” to their old-school, fresco-lined dining room and reinventing the eatery to fit into Carroll Gardens’s hip dining scene.

Marco Polo Ristorante on Court and Union Streets — famous for its authentic cuisine and not-quite-up-to-date décor — just got a posh new makeover that drastically changes the look and feel of the place, designers heading the project say.

“It keeps up with the way the neighborhood is evolving — and caters to a younger clientele,” said Michael Santora, an architect with the firm Crown Design.

The $500,000 renovation trades the eatery’s famous flashy mural and weathered brick arches for a modern, cream-colored interior with black and white photos of Venice. It also features a new bar for “casual dining” and a wine-tasting room, Santora said.

Designers also knocked down a wall so the space feels “bigger and brighter” in an attempt to establish a “chic Mediterranean feel” complete with distressed wood floors, sidewalk dining and a private room for parties.

Owner Joe Chirico, whose eatery has gotten in the headlines for hosting stars including Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler and alleged mafia ties, didn’t return calls seeking comment by press time. But a spokesman for the eatery, Michael Gartenlaub, said the remodeling comes alongside several new menu items such as black seafood risotto, a lobster salad with orange, and salmon tartar.

Gartenlaub said the food at Marco Polo will remain traditional as ever — even with the restaurant’s new modern digs.

The goal is keep regulars happy and cater to a new younger neighborhood crowd, designers said.

“We’re trying to grab the casual diner,” Santora said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.