Move over, Finger Lakes. For a glass of fine wine and a hand-crafted hot meal to go along with it, Childs in Carbondale Twp. recently has become a hot spot.

Opened in May 2017, Marilake Winery and Restaurant serves between 12 and 20 house vintages (available seasonally) as well as executive chef Bruce Stein’s menu of “familiar, American world cuisine.”

The Peckville native, who earned a degree in culinary arts from Keystone College, said he’s loved cooking ever “since Emeril (Lagasse) was on TV,” and used to practice kitchen skills by making his father breakfast every Sunday morning.

“I have a temperament of giving and serving,” Stein said. “It’s in my blood, I guess. I used to watch my mom cook. I gain a lot of gratification from someone eating my food and saying, ‘Yum.’”

Shrimp on a plate

Jason Farmer / Staff Photographer
Firecracker Shrimp

When he reached high school in Valley View School District, Stein enrolled in the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County’s culinary program. In the years of education that followed, he learned from great chefs who cooked all over the world and helped Stein develop his technique.

“I was obsessed with eating and playing with fire,” Stein said with a laugh. “They gave me what I needed to get out there with confidence.”

When Marilake owners John and Kenny Marino approached him about starting an eatery at their winery, Stein joined the team and introduced a menu that reflected his knack for incorporating Southwest and Asian flavors into meals.

“You’ll read American but taste other things in the background,” Stein said.

Signature dishes at Marilake include his Chili-Rubbed Scallops (with smoked jalapeño aioli and cilantro cream) as well as his $10 Steak Night specials every Saturday, when prime cuts of meat are served with fresh-made fries that are cooked four times before they ever reach a customer.

“I infuse them with flavor from the inside out,” Stein said of the crispy side. “It’s an effort to bring fine dining to an affordable restaurant.”

Other weekly themes include Pizza and Trivia Tuesdays, Wing Night Wednesdays, Thursday Burger Nights and Friday Seafood Specials.

“I try to get some off-the-chart stuff from South Side Seafood (in Scranton),” Stein said.

Scallops on a plate

Jason Farmer / Staff Photographer
Chili-rubbed Scallops

With support from his culinary team — including line cooks Adam Cruz, Michele Brown and Jordan Essig — Stein manages the flow of the kitchen, while bar manager/mixologist Anthony Smith works wonders behind the bar.

“The mixed drinks here are really unique and all made from PA liquors and beer,” Stein explained. “(Smith) makes sangrias fresh daily from our house wine and puts a personal touch on everything. So much research goes into each special. He’s so important to this business.”

With seating for about 50 inside plus another 30 on the enclosed, covered patio, Marilake offers a respite even from the busy Main Street where it’s located at the bottom of the Meredith Street/Carbondale exit from the Casey Highway.

Stein said he’s most proud of the fact that Marilake transformed in concept from a winery with a restaurant to a restaurant-winery.

“I love the creative freedom,” he said. “Every time you come in here, it’s something different, fresh and seasonal.”

Marilake Winery and Restaurant

  • Address: 209 Main St., Childs
  • Phone: 570-536-6575
  • Established: May 18, 2017
  • Owners: John and Kenny Marino
  • Cuisine: New American
  • Hours: Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 3 to 11 p.m.
  • Online: Visit the winery’s Facebook page.