Culinary inspirations: No question, Roberto Caporuscio, a fantastic pizzaiolo from Campania who's been living in the states for ten years and cooking some of the best pizzas in the world. Before I opened Marco's, I flew to Italy to train with Roberto, and he taught me how to make real Neapolitan style pizza. He helped me open Marco's, and now he's got a great restaurant in New York called Keste that's the real deal. Roberto taught me just about everything I know. It's his fault that pizza's my world.
Proudest moment as a chef: There've been so many, but Oktoberfest of last year really stands out for me. Both the bar and the restaurant were completely packed, but I stepped back for a second to look at everything that was going on, and I honestly felt like I was in the middle of Manhattan. I kept saying to myself, "Look at what we've accomplished here in just three months." The energy was palpable, and everyone was having such a good time. It was definitely a "Holy shit, look at this!" moment for me.
Best food city in America: Vegas, baby! I had the best meal ever in Las Vegas at a place called Bartolotta Ristorante De Mare. I was in Las Vegas for the 2008 pizza expo, and I met this whole Italian contingent -- guys like Don Antonio, who owns Pizzeria Starita in Napoli and Sergio Miccu, the president of the Association of Pizzeria Napolitano -- and we ended up at Bartolotta, where we had a waiter from Naples who took our menus away and had the kitchen just cook for us. I can't even tell you what we ate, but I remember that every dish was better than the last dish. The food was off the charts, just phenomenal. I've thought about this for a long time, and you know what? It was a meal that could never be duplicated.
Favorite New York restaurant: Keste, because Roberto Caporuscio stretches a pizza dough like no one I've ever seen. And Peter Luger's in Brooklyn, because it's the best fucking killer steakhouse anywhere.
Denver has the best: Industry support system. All the chefs and culinary people came in here when we first opened, and their support was beyond anything I ever could have ever imagined. The industry people put us on the map with their word of mouth, and showing up and spending money. They totally put their money where their mouth was, and I'm so appreciative of that.
Denver has the worst: Seafood. I'm an East Coast boy. Where the hell can I go for Chilean sea bass, a great clam linguine, zuppa di pesce or cioppino? I haven't found any of that yet in Denver.
Favorite cookbooks: I don't own a cookbook. I don't have the patience or time to read them. I'm more of a visual person; I'd rather go to people and ask them to show me how to do things than read about how to do things.
Favorite music to cook by: When we're actually cooking, I don't like music. We need to focus and execute. But when we're prepping, I love Matchbox 20, Grateful Dead and Green Day.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network? A show that spotlighted the best pizzerias, pizza and pizzaiolos around the world. I'd go around to places all around the world and delve into the history. Of course, I'd like to have to Marco's on there...
After-work hangout: When they're open, Cigars on 6th. I love pizza and pasta, but I like a cigar now and then, too.
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SHOW ME HOW
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Ostrich. It was okay, but it didn't blow me away.
You're making a pizza. What's on it? Anything you want. Except anchovies.
You're making an omelet. What's in it? What the hell am I going to do with an omelet? If I have to make an omelet, it's going to be a three-cheese omelet with Italian sausage and a hint of onion.
What's next for you? I'd love to have a portable oven so I could cater parties, and I'm looking for a second location for another Marco's. And if I can find it, then I'm going to make deep-fried pizza. Not if...but when.