Christina McGarry, a junior at the University of Virginia, said Blacksburg’s dining halls and football games consistently outrank Charlottesville’s. This isn’t news to any Hokie who considers himself or herself superior to the average Wahoo.
However, Blacksburg is taking a leaf out of Charlottesville’s cookbook again.
The first time Blacksburg followed Charlottesville’s lead was when Qdoba, a Charlottesville favorite, was added to Turner Place at Lavery Hall’s menu. This time, it was adding Marco & Luca to the neighborhood dining experience.
You wouldn’t know it from the title, but the eatery is known for its Chinese food. For 10 years, locals in Charlottesville have praised the simple, fast service that Marco & Luca provides. On Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zagat’s, Marco & Luca has received hundreds of positive reviews.
The most popular menu item is without question the dumplings, but Marco & Luca also serves soups, noodles and vegetarian dishes. McGarry said the lines at Charlottesville’s Marco & Luca are often long and winding.
“During sorority rush, my girls and I had a break for dinner at Marco & Luca,” McGarry, who is majoring in history and politics, said. “The line was out the door.”
The Marco & Luca restaurant in Blacksburg opened its doors early February. Local Virginia Tech alumnus Gary Cope has already sampled its dumplings.
“I work in the building right next to (Marco & Luca),” Cope said. “It kind of snuck up on me.”
Cope has held on to his connection with Tech and its traditions. While working in Charlottesville, Cope traveled back to Blacksburg for nearly every home game. He said that local businesses like Souvlaki and Mike’s Grill are staples in his Blacksburg diet.
“Students don’t have to go far to get a healthy, tasty meal,” Cope said. “It wasn’t that way when I was a student.”
Although the dining hall experience at Tech continues to impress Cope, he said that Marco & Luca stands a better chance in Charlottesville’s pedestrian-friendly Corner.
“(Charlottesville’s) downtown has a huge selection of restaurants,” Cope said. “The only place at Tech that really compares is College Avenue, which is mostly bars. There isn’t a separate place for older folks such as myself, whose partying days are long over.”
Marco & Luca moved into the space that Quizno’s left in University Mall. Cope said that, in his opinion, the Blacksburg restaurant isn’t any worse or better than Charlottesville’s Marco & Luca. To a seasoned Blacksburg patron like Cope, the hype seems unfounded.
“I’ve heard about the reputation it has in Charlottesville, and I ate there the first time this week,” Cope said. “For something quick and easy, you can’t beat it, but I don’t see what all the rage is about.”
Cope studied communication during his time at Tech, but has also lived and worked in Charlottesville. His roots in Blacksburg have grown deep; he and his wife had Sub Station II cater their wedding, and they held their rehearsal dinner at Mike’s Grill.