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Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria Denver Colorado

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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
Denver
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 ?

          http://www.yelp.com/biz/marcos-coal-f...

          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

                  Go.

                  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.

                      2. Overpriced and Undercooked!
                        What a letdown! The ingredients were good, but they should fire the pizza maker. First of all, $11 for a 12" margerita pizza is ridiculous in CO. They should fly to NYC and got to Patsy's/Grimaldi's to see where they went wrong. What a crappy pie! I love almost all pizza and didn't even want to finish our lunch because the crust tasted like frozen pizza. Why have a coal oven and ruin a pizza like that?
                        Save yourself the dissapointment and go to Parisi's instead. I grew up in Manhattan and have enjoyed pizza all over the world. This time was not one of them.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: daves303

                          I could not help but notice your other single negative post on yelp regarding this restaurant which spiked my curiosity.
                          As you must know Patsy's/Grimaldi's are not Neapolitan style pizza so a accurate comparison between them may not be the best choice. Kind of similar to comparing a porterhouse steak to short ribs. Still beef but little else in common.

                          I would be interested in hearing about other Neapolitan style pizzeria's you may have tried in comparison to Marco's Coal Fired Pizza.

                          1. re: oysterspearls

                            What would you call Patsy's if not Neapolitan? They are thin crust, fresh tomato and mozz pizzas, not sicilian or any other style. Do you know Grimaldi's in Brooklyn and Patsy's (which is close but still a far cry from Grimaldi's)? How about Totanos (sp?)? Very similar to Marcos but they are not afraid to actually cook the pie.

                            The real letdown was the undercooking of the pizza and lack of basil. I get frustrated when the ingredients are excellent but there seems to be no quality control in the prep/cooking.

                            1. re: daves303

                              Grimaldi's and Patsy's do what is considered a NY style Neapolitan.
                              Larger and cooked in a coal oven. True Neapolitan as produced in Naples is cooked by wood. At least it is my understanding that Marco's Coal Fired Pizza is aiming for authentic Neapolitan.
                              If that is the case then a better comparison would be what Anthony Mangieri is doing at Una Pizza Napoletana, or Il Pizziaolo in Pittsburgh among a very few others.

                              1. re: daves303

                                It's obvious from your comments that you are confused or are seriously misguided about what Neapolitan pizza is.(Like many people running restaurants throughout the States and "claiming" to be Neapolitan.)
                                Follow oysterpearls advice and check out her recommendations (you can add Settebello in Salt lake city,Via Tribunali in Seattle and Spaccanapoli in Chicago to the list also )
                                Totonnos also is nothing like Marco's.It's a typical elite old school Tri -State style pie cooked in a coal fired oven.coal is never used in Naples,Italy.Neapolitan pizza is much lighter,softer,more pliable and with far less toppings.
                                Marco's may not have been to your taste,but your comparisons show lack of understanding and only muddy the water even more.I look forward to trying Parisi's ( They use wood also I beleive ?) on my next visit to Denver.From photos on the web it's my guess that they use a Valoriana or Pavesi oven ? Marco's ( like the other places I and oysterspearls suggested ) uses an Acunto oven from Naples.Purpose built for Neapolitan Pizza ( It has a lower dome height ) to provide balanced heat.

                                1. re: xny556cip

                                  xny556cip is correct. Well at least for everything except my gender.LOL

                                  1. re: oysterspearls

                                    Oops! My apologies sir !

                                    1. re: xny556cip

                                      No problem. I got a chuckle out of it anyhow.
                                      Guess I better start thinking twice about any future screen names. LOL.
                                      Oysterspearls was based after a signature dish of Thomas Keller's.

                                      1. re: oysterspearls

                                        Thanks for the info! I will try Marcos again and maybe ask for more basil and cooked well done. Seems like everyone but me has liked it, so maybe it was an off day.

                          2. Just curious what the pre-game crowds are like here. I was thinking about heading here this Friday, but there is a game that night.

                            I would love to try it, but want to avoid long waits and annoying crowds. I will also have a largish group with me, so don't want to inconvenience them too much.

                            Thanks for the feedback.

                            1. Lori Midson just gave Marco's a stellar review in today's "Rocky." See http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news...

                              1. I live in Brooklyn and have been numerous times to Patsys, Grimaldis, Tototonnos (in Coney Island), DiFaras, and my new favorite Lucali's in Carroll Gardens, and ate at Marco's on Tuesday night. In my opinion, Marco's does not rise to the level of any of the above but it definitely has potential -- with the exception of Lucali's, those pizza places have been in business a long time. I had the regular neopolitan pizza and the sauce and cheese and crust were all tasty. The only thing it really lacked was a more well done crust. Now excuse the lifetime New Yorker in me, but what can one expect outside of the city? Just kidding (kind of ;).

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: gold75

                                  I doubt Marco's could ever meet your expectations gold75 as all the places you compare to are some of the better New York style pies.That's not what Marco's does,or even proclaims to be.It's like going to Biancos in Phoenix and comparing that to Batali's.Different style and different qualities.Neapolitan pizza just isn't cooked like a New York pie.

                                  1. re: xny556cip

                                    I don't think I was clear - I was trying to defend Marcos against those comparing it to longstanding NY pizza places, and I guess inartfully saying to give it a chance. I thought my pizza at Marcos was really delicious, although I would have liked a more well done crust. And it did taste very much like pizzas I've had at Totannos and Lucalis. I recommend!

                                    1. re: gold75

                                      I ate at Marco's last evening. Yes, I too thought the pizza there was very good and will go again. The center was a little undercooked for my taste, but the crust was delicious and had some nice charring. I'd agree with a previous post comparing to Oakland's Pizzaiolo, where I ate this summer: Marco's pie had more cheese on it than what I usually prefer.

                                      I thought the service and wine list were excellent. And Marco was on the floor and offered to make me a clam pizza on my next visit; I grew up eating lots of that at Pepe's in New Haven.

                                      1. re: aoakes4

                                        aoakes4 - I grew up in CT too, but in Fairfield County, so Pepe's was a rare treat. Our local pizza/red sauce Italian joint was called Phil Baker's, run by a local Italian kid who boxed professionally as Phil Baker. Marco's is on my to-try list, and both you Jason, who just reviewed it enthusiastically (http://www.westword.com/2008-10-30/re...) confirmed all good things posted here previously.

                                        BTW, Proto's does clam pizza on Fridays at some/all of their locations. And
                                        Nancy Proto also hails from Connecticut. AND Virgilio of Virgiio's in Lakewood worked at Pepe's.

                                        1. re: ClaireWalter

                                          Yes, ClaireWalter, I had read that Nancy Proto was from New Haven. I went to high school with people with that last name and wonder if they are related. And I will be sure to try Proto's and Virgilio's when I am back in Denver; I also hear that The Oven is also very good. Thanks for the info. Cheers!

                                2. Just wanted to report on an experience we had here this past weekend on a Saturday night. I've been here 3 or 4 other times with just a small group and have been pleased with the food, atmosphere, and overall experience. However, this time, I arrived with my toddler daughter to meet another family with 2 kids - a party requiring 6 chairs and a high chair. We were greeted promptly, but despite the empty dining room at 5pm on Saturday, we were told we would have to wait to be seated in the basement. I never even knew they had a basement! After waiting about 15 minutes, which seemed like a long time given the relatively empty restaurant, we were led downstairs to a dark, empty, depressing room with 2 circle tables and one square table haphazardly thrown together to seat our party. A large screen TV was the only decor in the room. Needless to say, we were less than pleased and made our displeasure known, but we were not given any option of being seated in the main dining room.

                                  Again, I understand that owner Mark Dym wants to save his restaurant's prime seating on Saturday night for parties without children. But as he stood by and said nothing that evening as we walked out of his restaurant, he's essentially lost my business forever, despite the fact that I did really like his pizza.

                                  Bottom line - this place has been touted for so many reasons, and many have reported it to be kid-friendly. But I'll never go back.

                                  Too harsh?

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: hungrygirldenver

                                    Too harsh? Your report? Not if it happened. Too harsh? Marco's treatment of a party of 6 1/2? Harsh indeed and, according to your report, uncalled for -- unless, of course, the kids were "acting up." If they were exhibiting "restaurant manners," I hope that you walked out right away and didn't have your pizza served in the dungeon.

                                    1. re: hungrygirldenver

                                      Too harsh? I'd say not. I'm with Claire. If you waited for your food and didn't immediately walk out, that was too lenient. If you walked out without telling Mark(o) the reason, that was too lenient. Hey, there's a lot of pizza out there served in places where the owner appreciates your biz, kids or no kids. And although I don't have any kids, I've had several experiences where the adults at the next table acted worse than 2 year olds deprived of Sesame Street.

                                      1. re: hungrygirldenver

                                        I had a good experience at Marco's, but this sounds humiliating. Did you ask why you were forced into the basement when the rest of the place was empty? Was the dining room even full when you left?

                                        1. re: rlm

                                          I didn't ask - we did make it known that we would rather be seated in the main dining area but were told it wasn't an option. Dining room had maybe 3 or 4 parties being served - largely empty! Owner was standing by and didn't intervene. We actually walked out before even being seated and had a very pleasant dinner at nearby Buenos Aires Pizzeria - actually very kid friendly indeed!

                                          1. re: hungrygirldenver

                                            Good for you, Hungrygirldenver, and shame on Marco's. Serves 'em right if they begin to lose family business. The pizza we grow up on is the pizza we love. I still have fond memories of Phil Baker's in Norwalk, CT, and Pepe's in New Haven, a distant treat that we had to drive to!

                                            1. re: hungrygirldenver

                                              Way to go! From what you read on these boards, most people would have accepted the abuse like sheep and then hit internet with agressive complaining. I love Buenos Aires pizza and will often eat there before a Rockies game.

                                          2. re: hungrygirldenver

                                            "we were told we would have to wait to be seated in the basement. I never even knew they had a basement! After waiting about 15 minutes, which seemed like a long time given the relatively empty restaurant"

                                            First I would say that I find it foolish that you sat and waited 15 minutes for a subterranean table without question when you obviously saw open tables at street level and that was your preference?My immediate question would be "why can't I / we sit here before I considered waiting for anything?"
                                            If you didn't like the space downstairs,you had another chance to question the seating arrangements before deciding to stay or dine elsewhere? Over the years I've often found it necessary to question where or the type of seating I've been offered.Almost without question,it has been simply resolved in my favor.Unfortunately Host staff ,though well intentioned,are not always the sharpest knives in the drawer.

                                            From the continuous and overwhelming positive reviews this place has garnered since my original post I find it incongruous that a business owner so maniacally attentive to service would knowingly allow something like this to happen either within earshot or right in front of his very eyes without commenting?

                                            I'm sure there are many out there who read a blemished review with glee,however I sincerely hope and doubt that this is indeed reflective.As a customer and an employee I've come to accept that you can't please everyone and when you are successful there is a line of snipers ready to take a shot

                                          3. Went to Marco's for the first time last weekend. It was really good pizza, but I thought the crust had a little too much char which made it a bit too bitter for my taste. More of a nitpick than a complaint and certainly not enough to keep me from returning.

                                            1. I've been to Marco's, Proto's, The Oven, and Virgilios many times. I can say without a doubt that The Oven in Bel Mar is the best of the bunch. Marcos is very good, but not amazing - if anything, their wings are the real treat. Proto's best pizza is the clam pie on fridays. Vigilio's best is the House Favorite, but at The Oven, it doesn't matter what you order, its going to be excellent. They do the basics better than anyone else. With pizza joints, its all about crust, heat, and sauce - The Oven just nails all 3.

                                              I've got pictures on Protos and Virgiolio's pizzas on my blog: www.musteatdenver.com