Dine in and feel like family with heirloom offerings and a luxurious dining space.
Written by Wendy Holdren
From humble beginnings at local fair booths and Italian festivals to two full-service restaurants, the Marilyn’s team never tires of hearing customers say, “This is better than what my mom used to make.”
Over the years at fairs and festivals, their booth lines grew longer and longer and their customer compliments continued. Patrons started asking where their restaurant was located so often that the team was finally inspired to find a permanent home for their beloved hand-rolled, hand-cut gnocchi and sauce.
Marilyn’s co-owner Jim Cellurale says he, his brother John, and their business partner, Allen Crutchman, kicked off their restaurant endeavor in 2017 with Marilyn’s on Main in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Three years later, the trio came across an opportunity for space in Northpointe Plaza in Morgantown that they couldn’t pass up.
“The market was ready for the freshness we bring to the table,” Jim Cellurale says. “Everything we do is scratch-made. We use the best ingredients we can find, and we use local when it’s available.”
While the menu skews Italian, Marilyn’s borrows inspiration from other cuisines as well, as shown in the fan-favorite General Tso’s Cauliflower appetizer. Many of the recipes have been passed down for generations through the family, which hails from Abruzzo in the southern part of Italy.
“The restaurant is named after my mother, Marilyn, an excellent cook in her own right,” Cellurale says. “The menu has many of her recipes, and recipes from my two grandmothers as well.” On the menu, diners will find homemade pasta dishes, including scratch-made spaghetti; fresh seafood like The Colossal, colossal candied bacon-wrapped scallops and jumbo shrimp coated with cajun spice and blackened in cast iron; and black angus reserve and even higher-grade steaks.
“We don’t skimp on anything,” Cellurale says, noting that a hulk of a steak, the 42-ounce Porterhouse, is back on the menu after a hiatus during the pandemic. Inspired by a trip to the Tuscany region of Italy, where every tavern or restaurant features a version of the Florentine steak, Cellurale brought the dish to Marilyn’s: a three-finger-thick cut steak served medium rare with olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper, and salt.
Opening during the pandemic summer of 2020 was no easy feat, but Marilyn’s of Morgantown survived, thanks to outdoor dining on the patio and a large event space that allowed for social distancing. But finally opening at full capacity with no restrictions was especially exciting for the Marilyn’s team.
Cellurale describes the Marilyn’s vibe as “upscale, but unpretentious,” with an urban chic design. Both locations offer extensive wine lists, cocktails with quality bourbons and tequilas, and draft beer, including local offerings. He says their restaurants are great for both casual dining and for special occasions.
“We’re a family-run place, and we take pride in it. We treat our employees and our customers with that same mentality—like part of the family. The experience is just as important as the food.”
Tomato Fresca Linguine
- 1 pound DeCecco or other linguine pasta
- 1 pound mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse kosher salt
- Butcher’s grind black pepper
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup freshly grated aged asiago
- Slice cherry tomatoes in half.
- Roll basil leaves and chiffonade—slice very thinly into ribbons.
- Cook pasta according to directions for al dente.
- Drain the pasta—do not rinse—and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add fresh minced garlic and saute until garlic is just starting to brown. Add tomatoes. Saute until the skin on tomatoes starts to wilt.
- Add ¾ cup of asiago cheese and a ladle of the reserved pasta water. Toss in the pan. Consistency should be creamy, not sticky. Add more reserved pasta water as needed to reach desired consistency.
- Add ¾ of the basil leaves and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve and garnish with remaining basil leaves and a touch of the shredded asiago.