The Washington Times - November 4, 2008, 04:13PM

by Donne Tempo Magazine

Think you’ve had really good pizza, the kind that hearkens back to Italy?

Think again.

Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza, a new pizza restaurant in Denver’s ballpark neighborhood, serves up authentic Neopolitan pizza to die for.

Restaurant co-owner Mark Dym, a New York native and recent Denver transplant via Florida, doesn’t cut a single corner in bringing the Italian dining experience to the Mile High City.

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Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza (Photo Courtesy Marco’s)

The pies might be a little more expensive than your standard fare, but it’s a small price to pay for ingredients straight from Italy - and flavor you’ll want to sample over and again. And budget-minded customers can always take advantage of the $9 lunch special.

The menu features both Neopolitan pizzas, like a scrumptious white pizza (the Abruzzo) and the more traditional Campania, as well as New York style offerings like the meatball-laden Bronx pizza.

What sets Marco’s pizza apart from the competition? Let’s start with the ovens, imported from Naples, which reach 1,000 degrees. It’s so hot the pizzas take all of 60 seconds to cook. Talk about fast food.

The result? A pizza that’s “well done on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside,” says Dym. And who are we to disagree?

The restaurant’s design, featuring exposed brick and wooden support beams dating back to the late 1800s, lets diners watch the pizzas going in and out of the ovens. It takes a measured touch, and quick hands, to scoot the pies through the oven’s small mouth. The narrow opening keeps the bulk of the heart from escaping.

The menu is simple and easy to digest, although substitutions are frowned upon. Dym insists on speedy service, and with the 60-second cooking time custom ordering can clog up the system. Choosy diners can opt for a margherita pizza and pick two toppings.

No matter. Place your trust in Dym and his menu.

Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza (Photo Courtesy Marco’s)

The modest menu also features coal-fired chicken wings which taste like few other wings you’ve had before. The meaty wings, served with grilled onions and focaccia bread, are flavored with lemon and every bite reveals a new, more flavorful texture.

Dym would rather tell you about his pizzas than Marco’s salad selection, but diners will be glad to know the restaurant offers six different salads including an antipasta dish.

The pizzas may explode with flavor, but they’re light enough to leave room for dessert like tiramisu or cannolis. Want to share dessert? Try the Nutella Pizza for two, which uses a less crisp pizza crust wrapped around Nutella chocolate. At only $9 it easily satisfies two diners.

The restaurant imports the bulk of his ingredients from Italy, from the Antico Molino Caputo flour to the San Marzano tomatoes to make the dining experience authentic — and mouth watering.

The restaurant even uses a mixer imported from Italy to knead the dough into proper shape. The machine gently coaxes the flour and yeast into suitable form, unlike traditional mixers which work more harshly on the dough. That yields a tougher crust, Dym says.

Dym doesn’t have restaurant experience, but you’d never know it. Marco’s offers solid, friendly service, and Dym is on site nearly seven days a week to make sure his standards are met ‘round the clock.

“My goal is to have the best pizza in the U.S. I keep working on that,” he says.

Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza
2129 Larimer STreet
Denver, CO 80205
203-296-7000