What came to be Marsello’s at 2 Market Street began long before May of 2019 when they first opened the doors to their three-story historic building.
Marsello’s sits at the corner of Water and Market Street. With nine balconies, overlooking the Cape Fear River and U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship, it is arguably the best view in Downtown.
Jim Christiana frequented a small pizza place in his hometown of Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania since he was a young teen. A family friend to the owner, he was a regular customer, even after moving to Raleigh, North Carolina almost 20 years ago. Growing up in an Italian household, Jim had a strong grasp on ethnic cuisine. However, he could never find a pizza comparable to the square Sicilian slices served in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In May of 2018 while visiting family, Jim discovered his favorite pizza spot was only open three days of the week. The owner Jim’s childhood friend, presented Jim with a unique opportunity.
Jim and his wife, Barb, purchased her business to bring Sicilian pizza to the south. The couple immediately began searching for a location. What they had originally planned to be a hole in the wall take-out spot, turned into much more. When Barb and Jim found the 2 Market Street location – they fell in love and knew that this was the spot.
The new restaurant owners realized they could do more than just pizza in the kitchen of this impressive building. Barb and Jim couldn’t wait to share their family recipes with the Wilmington community. The Riverboat Landing location required more attention than they had previously thought. A labor of love began.
Bouncing Back After Florence
Shortly after starting renovations, Wilmington was struck by Hurricane Florence. Her damage to the area pushed Marsello’s progress and potential opening date back months. They were determined to see their vision through.
The building itself is historic, rebuilt in the 19th century after a fire destroyed the original structure, supposedly killing a family of four. Those spirits, they believe, remain in the building today. While the spirits are far from malicious, they do love to play an occasional prank on the owners, staff, and guests. When remodeling began, the spirits were leery of their new housemates. Barb associated the odd electrical and plumbing issues to these former patrons. She decided she had had enough of their antics. She spoke with local ghost expert, who suggested to set a table for the family, among other little details. This space is always properly set and Marsello’s guests are not permitted to sit at the reserved table. Barb instructs staff and guests to treat the unseen residents with respect.
Barb painted every inch of the building within those months of remodeling. Having a rustic and unique taste, all décor in the building was found at local thrift stores. Inside, guests will find dozens of collectible and vintage trivets. The trivets are several decades old and passed down from family members. These details contribute to the comforting and inviting atmosphere the Christiana’s aim to provide to their guests.
The Marsello’s Difference
Barb and Jim have always proudly served their friends and family fresh and delicious food. They promise their guests one thing: a quality, homemade and wholesome meal. They feed their guests like family – nothing but the best. The menu at Marsello’s is simple, focusing on the recipes that they know well.
Inspired by bottle shops, their beer menu supports a North Carolina market that allows guests to purchase beer and wine to go. The wine menu is also hand-selected to accompany the many different flavors of their menu.
Barb, previously a nurse at UNC Chapel Hill, and Jim, steel mill worker turned retail manager, quit their jobs and sought a new adventure 28 years into their marriage. The name, Marsello’s, comes from their two daughters, Maranda and Selena; taking the first three letters from each name.
Barb and Jim put their blood, sweat, tears and then some into creating Marsello’s.
It is the Christiana family and Marsello’s team mission to serve excellent and fresh food provided by exceptional service, inviting your family to feel at home while among their own.