Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria

To understand how my husband feels about pizza, think about how the Cookie Monster feels about cookies. Yep, it's pretty much the closest comparison I can make.

So it only made sense, when looking for a place near Coors Field to grab a pre-Rockies dinner with friends, to try Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria.

Knowing that Marco's would likely be packed just before a ball game, we made reservations for four for a very early 5:00 pm dinner.

My husband and I arrived about fifteen minutes early and were told that despite our reservation, we'd have to wait until our entire party arrived to be seated. Ok, no problem, off to grab a drink at the bar. Oops, we couldn't do that, all the bar stools were taken. So we sat down near the bar, at a table which we couldn't decide if it was part of the bar area or wasn't. Fortunately, a couple people soon left the bar and we were able to grab two of the precious few seats available.

After a beer for each of us and the arrival of our dinner companions, we were seated at a real table. We were soon greeted by a very friendly waiter who took good care of us for the rest of the night.

To start, we had to try the Lemoncello Chicken Wings after reading rave reviews on Yelp.

Lemoncello Chicken Wings

They were well cooked and well seasoned but didn't live up to the hype. I couldn't get over the extremely charred look of some of them (part of the "coal-fired" mystique maybe but it still turned me off) and I missed the spiciness of a normal hot wing. I still don't know what "lemoncello" means, but it's not as tasty as Franks Red Hot.

Next up, it was time for the pizza that we all came for. And before even trying a bite, my husband became every excited about a certain pizza at Marco's. He likes to brag about his Italian heritage, and especially about how his family comes from the Abruzzo region of Italy. After a brief perusal of the menu, he excitedly pointed out to me that Marco's offers an "Abruzzo" pizza, which comes with a cheesy concoction of Buffalo Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Gran Cru and Caciocavallo cheeses. In other words, a fancy quattro formaggio pizza. We ordered it, of course.

We also ordered two "New York Pies": The Bronx, topped with meatballs and ricotta cheese, and the Staten Island, topped with sweet Italian sausage, Vidalia onions, and roasted peppers.

Fortunately for my husband's pride, the Abruzzo was amazing. I don't normally order four cheese pizzas because I find them bland, but the cheeses each had a creamy and sharp flavor.
Lots of cheese on one pizza is great and all, but now it's time to talk about the real shining star of the evening: the Bronx pizza. I had been skeptical about the ricotta cheese; I thought it might be overwhelming or too lasagna-y or just the wrong match for pizza dough. I was wrong. Whoever dreamed up the toppings on this pizza is a genius. The ricotta was rich and creamy and spread lightly enough on the dough to still make it manageable as finger food. The meatballs were thickly sliced, well-seasoned morsels of meaty perfection. The Bronx pizza at Marco's might be my favorite pizza, ever.

The Bronx
The Staten Island was my least favorite of the three, and the only one our group didn't finish. It was bland compared to the other two pizzas, maybe because the only cheese used was standard mozzarella, and the Vidalia onions were overpowering.

The Staten Island
We were awfully stuffed after three pizzas and an order of wings between the four of us, but apparently not that stuffed, because when Mr. Oyster saw cannolis offered on the dessert menu, he couldn't refuse. Like the pizzas that preceded it, this was as good as I could've imagined. The ricotta filling was perfectly creamy and sweet. Our waiter informed us that the filling is made in-house, but the shell is not as they don't have an oven to bake it properly.

Since leaving Marco's, my husband has declared it as his favorite Neapolitan pizza ever. This is a big deal from a guy who eats so much pizza.  

Marco's has a second location, closer to our lives in the 'burbs, at Vallagio. We're rearranging our calendars to try that location after the culinary joy at the Ballpark Marco's. 

If you like Neapolitan pizza, go to Marco's. Period.

Casual Dining

(9 of 10)

Pros: Pizzas are well executed and follow Neapolitan standards. Unique toppings. Excellent cannoli. 
Cons: Not nearly enough room at the bar. Won't seat incomplete parties even with reservations


Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


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