Make a list of the attributes deemed necessary these days for a successful restaurant -- convenient location, plenty of parking, trendy food, haute decor -- and you wonder why Marconi's is still one of Baltimore's favorite dining places. Many old restaurants survive by moving imperceptibly with the times. At Marconi's a culinary Rip Van Winkle would find comfortably familiar surroundings.
In large measure this happy preservation of classic dishes -- and damn the cholesterol -- is the legacy of John C. Brooks, the gaunt guardian of the front door who owned or managed the restaurant for four decades. Mr. Brooks, who died Monday at 89, was the personification of Marconi's: courtly, restrained, conservative, a bit of an anachronism and the epitome of quality.