They say that before you eat a meal you taste it with your eyes. Well, when I had the pleasure of dining at one of Marco's fi nest restaurants, Sale e Pepe, recently I realized that not only is this true, but it can be taken even further... the decor and ambience of a restaurant can also have an affect upon your enjoyment of a meal before you even sit down at your table. At Sale e Pepe this is entirely a good thing. The restaurant is located on the Gulf side of the Marco Beach Ocean Resort on Collier Blvd. The building was constructed in 2002 but the cobblestone rear courtyard, where you leave your car for valet parking, with its tinkling fountains, stone statues and arched stone walkway, gives you the feeling you could be entering an ancient Tuscan villa rather than a modern building. A stone staircase leads you into a sumptuous, dramatically lit bar area which, with its long gleaming bar, backed by a huge Toulouse Lautrec style mural, could fi t well in a New York gentleman's club. The main restaurant, with its intricately carved, buttery stone walls, mosaic marble fl oors and tables dressed with starched white tablecloths, spar-kling stemwear and adorned with single red roses, can only be described as simply elegant. It is incredibly beautiful. Divided into several separate dining areas, each room offers stunning views of Marco's picture- perfect white sand beach. They can only be surpassed by the vista from the expansive terrace, where you can enjoy cooling sea breezes while watching the sun sink into the deep blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. An impossibly romantic scene which is especially inviting with a two for one happy hour daily between 4: 30- 6pm! With such an amazing setting, expectations for the food are set very high and, if our meal is anything to judge by, those expectations are easily reached and even surpassed by the young Executive Chef, Alberto Varetto. He was born in Italy and began his culinary apprenticeship at the age of 12. He achieves a truly authentic Italian style by importing all the fundamental ingredients from Italy and making all his pastas, sauces and bread fresh daily. When we dined there, my appetizer of roasted sea scallops, served with sweet onion confi t and lobster sauce, was tender and succulent and my husband's beef tenderloin carpaccio, served with baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette and shaved parmesan cheese, was " just delicious".