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Several months ago, I reviewed the lovely establishment, Maro Wood Grill, which resides between the H.I.P. District and South Laguna. Opened by Mariano (Maro) Molteni and Chef Debra Sims in 2011, the restaurant hasn’t missed a beat. And, even more interesting … everything they tell me about wanting to do in their future … happens.

Owner Maro decided he wanted a covered patio, and it’s in place now. In fact, it’s a glorious enclosed patio that tripled the size of the restaurant seating. Maro also decided to start creating his own giant stainless steel outdoor grilling structures. So, now those blueprints are live-and-in-color, rolling their way to multiple catered events and private parties.

On her side, Chef Debra decided she wanted to start Sunday brunches; she’s been talking about it for more than a year now. “Maro finally just said, ‘Look. Start the menu now and you can change it up as you go’ ” she says. “So, now we have a Maro Wood Grill Brunch!”

A Menu That Covers the Palate Gamut

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While the two business partners have primarily focused on an innovative, always-changing Argentinian lunch and dinner menus, they’re not strangers to creating brunches on holidays. This Easter Sunday, their “holiday” brunch menu will actually be the launching menu for the ongoing Maro Wood Grill Sunday brunches.

And what a menu the Maro Wood Grill Brunch is! (Small surprise as Chef Debra never ceases to amaze me.) The menu is a rollick of about 20 menu items with a handful of items devoted strictly to breakfast and the rest residing in that “in between” world (ergo, the word “brunch”) or as more of a lunch entrée. And, although the team here loves its wood-grilled meats, vegetarians will be happy to see at least half of the menu is meat free.

 

Classic Breakfast Items That Are Truly Classic

If it’s breakfast you want, you might start with something as light as Chef’s Orange Panqueques (Argentinian style fresh crepes with fluffy orange marscapone filling) or her brunch oatmeal, a mix of rolled oats, oat bran and organic quinoa.

I could say that Chef’s French Toast is on the lighter side, but let’s be honest here, folks. This is brioche pastry made into a crazy bread pudding with maple cream sauce. Oh … and it comes with a side of eggs and an optional order of thick slab bacon. Enough said.

For people who love their eggs (I’m one of them), the Maro Brunch menu serves up steak and organic eggs, but understand the “steak” part isn’t one of those stringy flat affairs you see served with eggs … these are Chef Debra’s grass-fed baseball steak medallions with her secret chimichurri sauce and a babble of wood-grilled Yukon potatoes on the side.

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For me, though, it’s the Farm Breakfast, hands down. I love grappling with every breakfast possibility in one bowl or skillet, and this might have topped all previous grapples.

“My Dad used to fix this for us after church,” says Chef Debra. “I could hardly sit through church just thinking about it.”

Remembering that just about everything is done on the sizable wood-fed grill at Maro’s, this Farm breakfast is a pile-on of grilled and roasted Yukon gold potatoes, a few assorted veggies, red onions and mushrooms topped with mozzarella cheese, avocado and organic eggs. It’s served with a house made Sriracha sauce. It has this delectable smoky, steamy, kumbaya love from the very first forkful.

For the “Tweener” Mood

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Feeling like something not quite breakfast and not quite lunch? Maro’s has you covered with hefty cheese plates, grilled edamame, Chef’s fabulous empanadas with four different stuffings, and a grilled BLT open face sandwich that allows for a scrambled egg crown.

“The BLT is one of my favorites because everything comes from the grill,” says Chef Debra. “You have thick slab bacon, the iceberg wedge and the tomato … all grilled. We even grill the ciabatta bread before we pile everything on top with the scrambled eggs.”

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Determined to keep it light? Try Chef’s deconstructed Salmon Salad with organic kale, Loch Duart salmon, red onions, dried cherries, garbanzo beans, carrot slivers, cucumbers and a pile of feta cheese on the side. Her own lime vinaigrette seals the deal. It is super-fresh, crunchy, flavorful craziness.

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When Only Lunch Will Do

An expansion on her already-existing menus, Chef Debra’s lunch menu offers crowd favorites (the famed Maro burger and the rack of lamb for starters) as well as newcomers.

For brunch, she’s siding with one of her favorite loves – Mexican food – to create Black Bean and Feta Enchiladas that also come stuffed with cremini mushrooms, pasilla chiles and crème fraîche.

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And then, of course, there’s my eternal favorite, the Pulled Pork Sliders, made of the tenderest pork belly with house made barbecue sauce and shredded cabbage on a Hawaiian sweet roll.

“Once we’re settled in, I want to start introducing Chef Specials for that day,” says Chef Debra. “You know … like just 15 orders of biscuits and gravy available, that sort of thing. I want it to still have that Maro surprise factor where people can walk in expecting something different every time.”

Remember, everything these two tell me about wanting to do in their future … happens … which means that the Maro surprise factor at their new Sunday brunch is, undoubtedly, already rolling into play.

 

Maro Wood Grill is at 1915 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. (949) 793-4044