At Marion’s Mediterranean Restaurant and Tapas Bar, chef Marion Smith pushes the boundaries

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Open for a year now, Marion’s has added some fresh new menu items in keeping with the Mediterranean flavors. The outdoor patio as well as the Tapas Bar area all add to what makes Marion’s a superior culinary experience in casual fine dining. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Mary Malik

The journey that Marion Smith has taken to become head chef at Marion’s Mediterranean Restaurant and Tapas Bar has taught him that if you want to be successful, you need to start at the beginning.And the beginning for Marion involved working for some of Cleveland’s most iconic restaurants, including Classics in Cleveland, Geraci’s in Cleveland Heights and Waters in Hudson, all after studying classic French cuisine at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Open for a year now, Marion’s has added some new menu items in keeping with Mediterranean flavors. The completed outdoor patio and Tapas Bar area all add to what makes Marion’s a superior culinary experience in casual fine dining.

“We’ve kept some favorites, like the 2018 Taste of Mentor and Nana’s Tribe award winner French-style herb crusted rack of lamb and our signature French onion soup,” says Marion.

“We’ve also added a piccata style veal chop with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, shrimp scampi with squid linguine and risotto balls served over a silky, house-made red sauce. There are some fun and creative new additions for the spring and summer months.”

Marion’s style is all about taking something familiar and adding a new twist. The handmade pastas include the fruitti di mar, which combines squid and tarragon red pepper linguini pastas with clams, lobster, scallops, carrots and turnips in a fresh herb smoked jalapeno lobster sauce. Marion’s filet of salmon is stuffed with a shrimp mousse and served over gazpacho sauce.

“I like to offer something extra special, like my signature cheesecake,” says Marion. “It’s a New York style mango cheesecake with a baklava crust.”

Marion loves to tell stories about his time at Geraci’s, and how he learned from his boss, Mrs. Geraci, about really listening to customers and trusting his own instincts.

“Mrs. G taught me so much about running a successful restaurant,” says Marion. “I learned the importance of listening, learning what it is people really want and letting that guide you. Trust your customers and your instincts. And, at the end of the day, hold yourself accountable.”

Part of Marion’s commitment is to take advantage of the food and drink produced right here in Ohio. Whenever possible, Marion’s uses local produce and meats and is proud to showcase local wines and whiskey.

“Ohio has much to offer in locally produced food and drink,” says Marion.

“We take advantage of what’s fresh, and local whiskey and wines are always on the menu. I like to offer some wines you can’t get anyplace else. It makes your night out a little more special.”

The tapas plates at Marion’s are a particular favorite of customers, and of Chef Marion. The small bites allow him to get creative and try some new things without customers committing to a large entree.

“Things like frog legs and vegetarian items are fun to try in smaller portions,” says Marion.

Marion’s Mediterranean Restaurant and Tapas Bar is a unique place to gather with friends and family and experience award-winning food in a relaxed environment. The main dining room and Tapas Bar offer live music, and the hotel can handle large and small groups for weddings, corporate functions or reunions.

Marion’s Mediterranean Restaurant and Tapas Bar is located at 7701 Reynolds Rd. in Mentor (Inside The Holiday Inn Cleveland Northeast-Mentor.) The website is Hours are Monday through Saturday, 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; closed on Sunday. Reservations are available through or by calling 440-951-7100.