Mark Dym plays with fire at Marco's.

Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza is hot!

On Wednesday night, I had a pizza. Doesn’t matter from where—let’s just say it was from a well-known chain, well-known for serving halfway-decent ingredients atop cardboard crusts to drunken frat boys, suburban families and, occasionally, lazy restaurant critics. Let’s just say the name rhymes with Papa Juan’s.

Friday night, I had my first pizza at Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza. My first two, actually. And I had to be restrained from ordering a third.

The difference between the two experiences is like the difference between a warm bottle of Boone’s Farm and an Oregon pinot gris—not the greatest bottle in the world, but a really, really good one. It’s like the difference between a kiss from your sister or a kiss from your lover.

Over five days, I made three trips to Marco’s. I would have made more, but I simply ran out of hours. As with a new girlfriend or something even less savory, I just couldn’t get enough. And I still can't.

I ate leftovers for days, picking at slices while standing in front of the refrigerator (which, as any serious eater will tell you, is the best place to eat, because no food tastes better than it does at 2 a.m., consumed in the cold glare of a refrigerator light), and even going back for an extra meal on my own dime after this week's review of Marco’s was in the can.

I put in a call to Mark Dym, the owner of the joint, on Monday morning -- just giving him a heads-up about the review coming and thanking him for some excellent pies -- and he told me that I’d gotten him on an auspicious day. He’d just come in from the airport, where he’d gone to pick up the U.S. representative of the Verace Pizza Napoletana association, who's in town to inspect Marco’s and grace it with its second certification: the VPN.

Marco’s has already been certified a Neapolitan pizzeria by the APN (Neapolitan Pizza Association), but the VPN certification is even more stringent (right flour, right ovens operating at the right temperature, right cooks with the right training), and guarantees an even more authentic taste of Naples.

“So I got this call from you about a review, and this guy coming in from the VPN?” Dym told me. “Today is a good day.”

And I’ve got more Italian goodness for you in Second Helping, with a trip to Armando’s -- a place that's been too long off my radar. But in Bite Me, there’s a distress call from another pizzeria: Pizzeria Mundo, which is suffering (but still very much open) behind a curtain of construction on 17th Street. And news of another Italian joint, Via , which has closed altogether.

If you want to chew over something other than Italian, this week's edition also has an update on the new Landmark development in Greenwood Village and all the new restaurants going in there. And yes, one is a pizzeria. -- Jason Sheehan

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