Going to the chiropractor and hearing you (surprise!) suffered a massive neck injury sometime within the past 10 years is never fun. It’s especially not fun to then hear everything that’s wrong with your back as a result of said unknown injury.

What is fun, however, is getting to use your mid-day appointment as an excuse to eat lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant with your charming boyfriend. He took me to Marzano’s, a quaint, out of the way eatery near Pacific Lutheran University’s campus in Tacoma. We’ve been meaning to go ever since we once arrived for dinner only to find it closed. Sad day indeed. But it was very much open for lunch when we arrived at noon on this particular day.

When you dine at Marzano’s you feel as if you’re visiting a friend’s house rather than a popular restaurant. The small, cozy rooms where patrons are seated add to the intimate aura and are decorated with antique furniture and fresh flowers. Art dots the walls and candles line the fireplace mantle. You feel as if you’ve come home.

Our meal started with a fresh salad dressed in Italian vinaigrette and parmesan. It was delicious and a nice surprise considering it was included with the meal rather than offered at an additional fee as is the case with most restaurants. A basket of bread with sundried tomato butter also accompanied our meal.

Lunch offerings at Marzano include the usual sandwich and salad fare as well as a selection of pizzas and smaller versions of some main course dinner offerings.  My boyfriend is an Italian classics kind of guy and chose the lasagna. I, however, decided to try something more adventurous: Ravioli Di Zucche, or, fresh butternut squash ravioli doused in a hazelnut marsala cream and topped with brandied bosc pears.

It’s hard to find words to describe how enchanting this dish was. The sauce was warm and mellow with an earthy tone from the nuts, which added a nice crunchy texture. Then, every so often I would be surprised by a flash of sweet when a pear found its way onto my fork. The squash ravioli were just succulent. Nothing beats fresh pasta. Despite the ingredients involved, the dish was not too heavy. I even had room for dessert.

And what a tease making that choice was! They bring out the whole dessert tray here and it is covered with canolis and cheesecake and lava cake and mousse and pudding and…you get my point. I asked our server for some input and she replied by saying, “Once you try our tiramisu, you’ll never want to eat it anywhere else.” That’s all I needed to hear.

Besides being absolutely huge (it was way bigger than the one on the tray!) it was, indeed, amazing. Creamy and cool with warm espresso laced throughout, definitely one of the best I’ve ever had.

Sadly, there is no recipe to accompany this post…yet. I’m going to try and snag the recipe for that hazelnut marsala sauce later today. Wish me luck friends!