The Simple Life of Pizza at Marco’s By Claudia Carbone


Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza
2129 Larimer St. (Scroll down for a second location)
Denver, CO 80205

Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza

Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza
photo WCarbone

When my Neopolitan father tasted genuine Italian food in Denver, he would make a little hand gesture as though tweaking his moustache that meant this is authentic! He would have done it at Marco’s where it’s all about authenticity.   From two dome ovens hand-made of volcanic stone from Sorrento to the flour, meats and cheeses imported from Italy, Marco’s Pizza is Neapolitan through and through, and owner Mark Dym has the documents to prove it. On the wall hangs the official certificate from L’Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana with Marco’s world ranking of 285 and another from Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani recognizing Dym’s hard work as a pizzaiuolo (pizza maker) “in the service of quality.”

Dym credits his success to two pizzaiuoli: his mentor Roberto Caporuscio, famous on the east coast, and Caporuscio’s mentor Don Antonio Staritta in Italy.   “In Italy, pizza makers are highly respected, and the people I deal with are the highest in the world,” said Dym. “Don Antonio’s family pizzeria is 115 years old. He’s like a rock star there and has made pizza for the pope.”    Impressive? Yes, but what’s truly impressive is the heart of the matter—Marco’s food. The pizza easily is the best I’ve eaten outside of the Old Country. It’s not easy to find the southern Italian style that Marco’s serves. True Neopolitan pizzas are thin-crust, 12-inch pies cooked in 60 seconds or less in a 1000-degree oven and held briefly under the top heat for crisping. But it’s Marco’s crust that really sets them apart. It’s chewy and flavorful—even picky eaters who leave crust on the plate will devour it. The secret ingredient is Caputo flour imported from Naples that’s highly refined to baby-powder softness. It’s mixed in a special fork mixer, and then the delicate dough is lovingly stretched—not tossed or twirled—into a 12-inch round.   “We treat the crust gently, like you treat a beautiful woman,” said Dym. “Twirling is a New York thing. It’s not Italian.”  

In Marco’s cooler, huge wheels of imported artisan cheeses stamped D.O.P. wait to be melted onto the crust. The Denominazione d’Origine Protetta code guarantees the genuine characteristics of a product and its origin—the best of the best—like Bufala Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Gran Cru and Caciocavallo that sleep together in Marco’s all-white Abruzzo pizza. Toppings for the other Pizza Napoletana are cheese sprinkled with light produce, prociutto or ham. The New York pies are baked with heavier toppings like sausage and eggplant, but made with exactly the same dough and methodology.

  The house special is a brilliant dish of coal-fired chicken wings marinated in a house-made Limoncello and draped with roasted sweet onions. The Italian liquor also flavors the chicken breast sandwich named in honor of fourth-generation flour-maker Antimo Caputo, now a paisano of Dym. Meatball sliders and a cheesy lasagna, both covered in light marinara sauce, are more examples of when you’d make the moustache gesture. A handful of salads and an antipasto plate rounds out the menu. For dessert lovers, the Cannoli is textbook, the Tiramisu is light and airy, and the Nutella Pizza—well, I just didn’t have room, but if you’ve ever had the hazelnut-chocolate concoction, you can imagine!    With his attention to authenticity, it’s fitting that Dym opened Marco’s in an historic building dating back to 1883. With the help of Spectrum Contractors and Xan Creative, he mostly gutted the dingy place and transformed it into a bright, happy environment that mixes Old Denver with new hip decor. Decorative wrought-iron scrolls separating the booths are an artsy contrast to the original red brick walls, weathered oak floor and solid wood beams, a couple of which were made into wine racks that hang on the wall behind the bar. Two glowing ovens—one fired by coal, the other by hickory wood—dominate the back wall in the open kitchen where uniformed pizzaiuoli busily and precisely perform the art of making pizza under the watchful eye of “Marco.”   “I don’t let anybody serve a pizza unless I think it’s perfect,” said Dym.   Seeking perfection comes easy to Dyn, who closed his commodity firm in Florida and moved his family to Denver for a better lifestyle. He and wife Kristy toyed with the concept of owning a Neopolitan pizzeria, but it wasn’t until he received an email reply from Caputo that set the wheels in motion. “That email changed my life,” Dym said. “He’s the most knowledgeable in the world about pizza. I made the contact and the rest is history.” 

Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza

Upscale casual 2129 Larimer St. in the Ballpark Neighborhood 303-296-7000 Reservations: Open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Eat in or take out    

Denver native and third-generation Italian Claudia Carbone is an award-winning journalist who’s always looking for the perfect pizza. 
C. 2009 [TrueItalianTable] All rights reserved.

Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza Second location:
10111 Inverness Main St.
Englewood, CO 80112


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