A one-topping jalapeno pizza from Marco's Pizza.I had one of those accidental TMI conversations right in front of the guy ringing me up at Marco's Pizza. My boyfriend and I were discussing Game of Thrones (and by discussing, I mean I was going on for minutes while he was pretending to listen and care) and I was lecturing him on the character change from book to show without realizing that I was describing a male appendage in a bit too much in detail.
Then I realized it, and there was a moment of awkward silence. I totally apologized to the cashier for overshare -- but he just laughed and said it was cool. I gave him a good tip.
Restaurant staffers with well-developed senses of humor are a real treat in a world of sour, cranky customer service -- and the pizza, salad and wings at the newly opened Marco's Pizza weren't bad, either.
See also: - Marco's Pizza -- no, not Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria -- is coming to Stapleton - Exclusive first look: Live Basil Pizza opens Thursday in south Denver - Photos: Crowds now snarfing burgers at Snarfburger
Marco's Pizza -- not to be confused with Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza or Osteria Marco -- is a pie chain out of Ohio founded by Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco, who came to the U.S. from Italy as a kid and worked in his family's pizzeria. He took a family sauce recipe, opened the first Marco's Pizza in Toledo in 1978, started expanding into the Midwest and continues expanding today, with more than 200 franchised and company-owned stores in eighteen states and the Bahamas; nine of those locations are here in Colorado. Giammarco's brags are dough made fresh every day, never-frozen cheese blend and a secret sauce recipe.
I like secrets, but I'm willing to bet that tomatoes are one of the ingredients.
I had never heard of the place until some of those coupon fliers showed up in my mailbox, and since cheap pizza is almost as good as free pizza, I stopped at the Marco's at 2207 East Colfax Avenue, where I continued my naughty, mostly one-sided conversation from the car into the store.
Inside, the space is well-lit and very clean but small -- there are no dine-in tables -- with a beverage cooler stocked with the one thing every pizza place should have: energy drinks. Pizza can make you helluh sleepy, but if you sip on a Rockstar between slices, it helps to mitigate the snooze. I took a short break from tediously Jenn-splaining Game of Throne's allies and enemies to scan the menu; along with pizzas, Marco's offers up sub sandwiches (recognizable ones like ham & cheese, veggie, meatball and Italian sausage) cheezy bread (Marco's spelling, not mine), wings both regular and boneless, some hearty-looking salads and cinnamon squares for dessert.
I ordered two medium, one-topping pizzas (one jalapeno and one pepperoni) with ten hot wings and a family-sized antipasto salad ($24.99 with my coupon) and was pleased at the more-then-reasonable price for a goodly amount of food. I was sure by now that the poor employee didn't want to hear any more about Jason Momoa's wingle-wangle, so I settled in to wait for my order at an outside patio table and continued my inappropriate conversation with my equally uninterested boyfriend for about fifteen more minutes -- when the Marco's guy brought out my order, probably to make sure I'd leave faster.
The pizzas were still hot when I got home, and I was impressed to see that the jalapenos were not the mushy, pickled, movie-theater kind but instead fresh slices with life and heat. And while the pepperoni pie was a tad greasier than I like, the cheese blend Marco's uses was deliciously fatty, and that secret pizza sauce robust and tangy. I could tell that the pizza crust was made with fresh dough, too, since it was bubbled up all nice on the edges and had that winning combination of crispy, arid outside and warm, chewy inside.
The wings were nothing special, but the salad was huge and topped with a load of shredded cheese, ham, salami, Roma tomato slices and black olives. I was chewing right along until I bit into an olive pit, and nursed a slightly-wounded jaw through the rest of dinner.
But props to the cashier/pizza guy who put honey packets in the boxes for the crust -- another thing that more pizza joints should do -- and it was real honey from bees, not that fake, flavored syrup that gets passed off for the good stuff.
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I'd put the Marco's pies firmly in the "better-then-the-Hut" category, and provided the employees do a better pit-check on the salads, I'd pick up food here again -- or maybe have some delivered while I'm watching Game of Thrones.