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Jun 9, 2008 11:52 AM

Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria Denver Colorado

I just returned from a few days in Dever and was happy to see this new Pizzeria finally swing open the doors yesterday for a preview and bring authentic Neapolitan Pizza to an appreciative and demanding audience.From a brace of imported hand built ovens (One is wood fired the other is a combination of wood / coal ) they are spitting out 12" individual pizzas,the likes of which I do not believe Colorado has seen before.I know the owner has gone to extreme lengths to Import both equiptment and food products not usually readily available in this Country never mind this State - and it shines through in the final product.
An Italian Pizza Consultant trained the Pizza makers and has I believe, been retained to oversee that everything is done right.It's a compact Menu,but this is IMO a bonus.I'm a firm believer in doing a few things well than trying to do more and getting mediocrity.
Nice move Marco.

The restaurant is litterally a pitch away from the Coors stadium in the cool Historic District,so I expect it will be a favored Pre-Post game destination not only for the pizza,but the interesting salads and tender platefulls of bone sucking wings.Finally......take a look at the espresso machine they use.Yes it's a lever type.It's the only type you'll find any Neapolitan Bar owner worth his salt using, and about as rare as hens teeth on this side of the the Atlantic.That was the official seal for me that this place knows what they want to be and have spared no expense to get there.I didn't spend too much time lingering over the more than adequate wine list as i'm a beer and Pizza guy ( plus the fact that I was more than happy being entertained by the razor sharp wit of the colorful bartender , Marcel ! )
but i'm sure that there is something to satisfy both your tastes and wallet.
As a side note - while in town I also hit Jax,Steubens,Vesta,Snooze,Imperial (Great Chinese ! ) and a few others that I can't recall.Overall I was impressed and found my first dining experiences in Colarado refreshing.

Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria
2129 Larimer Street
Colorado 80205

Tel :303 296 7000

Hours :??

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  1. xny556cip - Does your "handle" mean that you are an ex-NYer. If so (or if from anywhere in the northeast), your pizza credibility climbs for me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ClaireWalter

      I lived in Manhattan for a few years and have tried pretty much all of the legendary New York / Tri State pizzerias.I would say that in general New York pizza is overated and varies considerably.I've also travel extensively and have to admit that for me nothing is better than true neapolitan,which I always try to seek out in every new city I visit.In Naples I like Del Presidente and Cafasso among others.
      Sadly Gas assisted ovens will not do it,nor will American flour.Too many American pizzerias claim to be Neapolitan just because they cook a 12" pizza in a hot oven.This is not the case -don't be fooled.

    2. Hours are Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. They officially open to the public on Wednesday.

      12 Replies
      1. re: gastronaughty

        Bumping old thread.... what's the latest on this place. outside of the location the description is hitting triple bars on my pizza slot machine.

        1. re: e_bone

          I hope to head out to Colorado later in the year and report back on this place ( as well as a few others ! ) but from the sound of things on other boards,this place is the only game in town for Neapolitan Pizza ?

          Unfortunately the Colorado chowhound board members don't seem to be too
          active a community,which is a shame because I thought there were some really interesting places out there.

          1. re: xny556cip

            Here's a picture (hopefully !) of one of the pizzas.They say a picture speaks a thousand words......

            1. re: xny556cip

              No, Marco's is not the only game in town for Neapolitan pizza -- although it's excellent and certainly worth going to. But Osteria Marco, Via, Via Baci, Virgilio's and Proto's all do Neapolitan pizzas, too.

              1. re: gastronaughty

                Thanks for the tips gastronaughty.
                I've not been to the places you suggested,but read that Gas burning ovens are used at Proto's and Virgilio's which precludes them from being Neapolitan?Also I believe some of the places are using a rolling pin to stretch out the dough! Anyhow....i'll give them a look.Thanks.

                1. re: xny556cip

                  I won't say it's Neapolitan (neopolitan?) since I don't know the precise definition but Parisi uses at least a wood-enhanced and possibly a wood-fueled oven and makes one of my favorite pies in Denver. The owner hails from Florence, not Naples so perhaps it's not a "kosher" Neapolitan pie.

                  1. re: xny556cip

                    If you are going to hold fast to the requirements, that rules out Marcos. True Neapolitan pizza requires a wood-fired oven, not coal. I

                    1. re: jtc

                      The name is misleading. There are two ovens and the pizza's are baked in the wood oven. I believe them to be Acunto's but I could be wrong.

                      1. re: oysterspearls

                        Not to get off subject, but if they, or any pizza place, uses a wood burning stove then on high pollution days when wood burning is supposed to be illegal do they keep cooking? Or do they have some sort of pollution control device? Just curious. I bet this has come up in California.

                        1. re: ColoradoFun

                          I would have no idea. But I can't imagine it being any more regulated then the average fireplace in a private home.

                          I believe some cities like NY no longer allow coal burning ovens but am not positive.

                          1. re: oysterspearls

                            Some cities may have banned it, but not NY. It's available throughout the city.

                            1. re: jtc

                              Yes, the old time pizzerias with original coal ovens. But the ordinance prohibits any more from being built and used. The existing pizzerias are exempt.

          2. Went to Marcos last night. It was terrific. From the moment we were greeted at the front door by a genuinely nice hostess, to our service we had a great experience. The moment you walk in you know that there has been great care put into the joint. The finish is top notch, not an expense appears to be spared. From the beverage station with the lemon-aid jars in view looking delicious, to the clean lines of the tables with in laid tiles and the wrought iron decorative curls found through out the place. The ovens sit near the back of the room and you can't help missing them or the action around them.

            Now a moment of honesty here, I really thought the owner was someone that I knew from high school... but go figure, it wasn't, there are two guys in the culinary field with the same name. It lended for a very funny and amusing moment for everyone I hope, and we caught up even if we only met for the first time that evening. He kindly explained the quality ingredients he brings in from Italy. He brought over a plate of the cheeses with an impressive balsamic reduction for us to try. I could have eaten the peccorino for dinner alone. Mark explained the nuances of the cheeses and that is always a specialty to know what to look for when tasting.

            He explained his process for his chicken wings, which are becoming very popular he said. So of course we had to try them. Oh my, so delicious. They are listed as the house special on the menu and really are. Lemon and rosemary marinade then oven finished with limoncello and vidallia onions? Who would have thought that it would work but I could have eaten the entire plate myself.

            We had the Abruzzo pizza which was really good. Light and perfect for a warm evening. The only thing I would have asked for more of would be more basil, the single sprig in the center of the pizza had us fighting for it. Oh and more buffalo mozz but that is just because I love it. The crust was slightly salty which was pleasant surprise and completely unexpected.

            Our service wasn't rushed or there was no pressure to order cocktails or wine, although the wine list was extensive and the by the glass offerings were varied. I did order the Proseco which was light and refreshing. We were just left to our own devices and it was a pleasure. Now keep in mind, the restaurant is a block and a half away from the baseball stadium so on a game night (last night was not) it might be a completely different story. There was absolutely no upsell on the desert which was divine. I am always dismayed when the server proceeds to try and sell me desert when I haven't finished my meal yet.

            I have to admit I enjoyed Marco's pizza better than Protos and expect a little backlash but this was wonderful. And I do look forward to going back.

            3 Replies
            1. re: aka_zoe

              If you get backlash for that comment it will be undeserved. Marco's pizza is hands-down better than Proto's, especially the crust. Had a quick lunch there a few weeks back and we are planning dinner there later this week. Thank you for a heads up on the wings. One observation from my previous visit. I think the name is confusing. It's "Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza", but they specialize in wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. Do they do the NY-style pizzas in the coal-fired oven?

              1. re: aka_zoe

                Oh I love a good simple pecorino (with honey even more than balsamic but that's another matter). Thanks for the review.

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  pecorino with honey? wowza that could be my next favorite combination I think... something to try this weekend! Thanks for the heads up on the delicious idea!

              2. I'm thinking about giving Marco's a try tomorrow night. I'm meeting a friend from out of town for dinner (she's staying at the Brown Palace) and want to go somewhere downtown that's nice, but casual and not expensive. The only hitch is that my two year old will be along for the ride. How kid-friendly is the place? I mean, it's pizza, right? It *should* be kid friendly. ;-)

                3 Replies
                1. re: itri


                  The pizza's great, the service is too and Marco is a terrific host. I brought my two young kids for lunch a few days ago and we were all welcomed and everyone had a nice time. I'd go again in an instant and would bring the kids with me.

                  Our experience was similar to that of the two long posts above. Marco filled us in on the background of the restaurant. His passion for what he's doing made the meal all the more appealing.

                  The pizza's in line with what little other purely Neapolitan pizza I've eaten, at A16 in San Francisco. It's not the same, but it's related and holds its own by comparison. The biggest difference between Marco's pies and other "serious" pizzas I've eaten over the last couple of years at places like Pizzeria Mozza in LA, A16 and Pizzaiolo in Oakland is that he uses more cheese and less of the other toppings. For example, we got a pizza with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe. There were sprinklings of the meat and rapini, but quite a bit of the fresh mozzarella and the other cheese, which was a dry aged one, IIRC. Personally, I prefer the minimal cheese, maximum topping style, but this worked, just the same.

                  People who live in Denver are lucky to have this place. Generally, I don't even like pizza and avoid it. The flavors are pedestrian and it fills me up in unsatisfying ways. But when it's right, it's got a great balance of flavors and textures and I feel like I've eaten a light meal. It's that way at Marco's, for reasons he'll be happy to explain.

                  1. re: itri

                    It's definitely kid friendly. I don't have kids, but if I did, they'd fit right in. I made my first trip on Monday night, and enjoyed everything. We had the chicken wings, two salads, and both a margherita pizza and the Sicilia (there were 4 of us). Everything was terrific, and we'll definitely be making it a regular stop.

                    1. re: itri

                      Thanks for the responses...we went and it was great! DS was treated like a prince. They brought out a ball of pizza dough for him to play with and offered to let him watch the action in the kitchen (he was watching in fascination from our table).

                      The service was very good, attentive and friendly. We each had a salad (good, but not spectacular) and split the Abruzzo pizza. Yum. The crust was definitely very close to what we had on a visit to Naples a few years ago. I can't wait to go back and try some other varieties...and would love to try the Nutella dessert pizza. We were too full to even contemplate dessert!

                    2. I ate at Marco's last week. I am not a wing fan at all, but I really liked the fresh taste of the coal-fired wings. The pizza I didn't think stood up to other coal-fired places like Lombardi's in NY. The crust wasn't crisp enough and the pizza I had was slightly soggy on the bottom. My waiter was enthusiastic and attentive even if it was obvious he didn't really know what 00 flour is or an Americano. I ate at a table facing the bar and the bartender kept playing with a toothpick in his mouth so there was no chance I was ordering another drink. I noticed the Nutella pizza was by far one of the most popular items.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: toogoaty

                        I think it's been pointed out earlier in this post that Marcos uses a wood-fired oven for their pizzas, not coal. We are eating there tonight, so I will get that clarified.

                        1. re: jtc

                          Looking forward to your thoughts.