My relationship to seafood has always been a tenuous one, but one thing that has remained true for me is that frying solved a lot of my reluctance. In fact, I remember as a kid liking my parent's fried fish so much, I would crack off chunks of the tails simply because I enjoyed the crunch. Steamed crab was never a favorite of mine, but my first encounter with a fried up disc of deliciousness that is a Maryland Crab Cake gave me a new way of thinking of this crustacean.
Operating for more than a quarter century, Marino's at first glance seems similar to other fast food-styled seafood places (in fact, the location used to be an Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips, a formerly Columbus-based company with over 800 locations at its peak but now only sports seven locations in New York and Northeast Ohio.) However, the long lines at lunch and during the Lenten season are signs that this ain't no ordinary fish fry joint.
The smiling "hey, welcome back" service (even if you aren't a regular) speaks to the down home feel you get here, as well as the mixture of Ohio State Buckeye paraphernalia and artwork on the inside walls. And more likely than not, you won't see any of Marino's larger fast food competitors post a sign such as this, which touts their "All-U-Can-Eat" happy hour (which is even better on Saturdays, when it's an all-day affair.)
Marino's offers all the basic a la carte, combo plates, and family-sized packs involving fish, shrimp and clams. But Marino's goes a little beyond what might be expected, offering smelts as a seafood option, chicken for those who don't care for seafood, and healthier baked and poached fish options.
I don't know too much about the Calabash-style of preparing and frying fish beyond that it originated in the Carolinas, but it elevates even a basic construct like the basic fish sandwich well beyond anything you can get at most name fast food joints.
In fact, the scent of slightly stale oil wafting from a McDonald's on a recent walk through the neighborhood reminds me that that has never been an issue on my visits at Marino's. Nothing I've eaten here, from the lightly sweet Hush Puppies (which come with any combo or family pack order) to the seafood to the chips (essentially, ridged thick slabs of potato) have never tasted greasy.
Marino's also sports salads and homemade soups; I haven't had opportunity to try those out yet. Also, they feature a variety of sides and desserts are fairly standard issue affairs. But in reality, you don't come to a place like Marino's to revel in those anyway. This is the kind of place where you come to stuff your gills to the gills with the gills.
Marino's Seafood Fish and Chips
1216 West 5th Avenue (Fifth by Northwest - Google Maps)
Columbus, OH 43212
Phone: (614) 481-8428
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