Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Got Your Fig on My Pizza! You Got Your Pizza on My Fig!

Osteria Marco located on Larimer Square in the LoDo district of Denver, CO

Osteria Marco on UrbanspoonFor my regular readers, let me just say that this is a hybrid post…A cross between our regular “New Food Wednesdays” section and “Restaurant Review Mondays” For you new readers, it probably won’t matter, but you’re welcome to stay and continue reading anyway.

There are few culinary or gastronomic memories that truly resonate with me; the first time I tried Julia Child’s Queen of Sheba Cake, my first time sampling quality brie, or even that one perfectly cooked steak lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and melted butter.  But after going to Colorado to celebrate the pending nuptials of a close friend, I must confess that my list of memories has exploded!

And as you may have guessed, it all started with a very old-world fruit and a slice of pizza.  The pizza in question was the aptly named ‘Fig Pizza’ from Osteria Marco located on Larimer Square in the LoDo district of Denver, CO.  In the past I have encountered countless recipes for fruit pizzas, but all of these seem to be a rift on the MStewart-90s-Retro appetizer, roasted pears with gorgonzola.  And while I love this classic taste profile, it’s just that, classic and common place.

The pizza from Osteria Marco however, was anything but common place.  As soon as the wait staff approached the table carrying the pizza my nose was tantalized by the faintest aroma of truffle oil; rich and earthy with distinctive appeal.  The crust was ever so lightly charred (I would have preferred a blacker crust, but c'est la vie), and prepared in the Neapolitan manner.  On the crust the chef(s) spread a thin layer of chunky fig preserves, followed by a thin layer of homemade mozzarella, which they then dotted generously with tangy chèvre, crumbled pancetta followed the chèvre, and finally the lightest drizzle of truffle oil brought the flavors together. 

The taste sensation was incredible!  I would have sworn that World War III had broken out right on my taste buds; sweet fig met salty pancetta and tangy chèvre met earthy truffles.  It was refreshing, vibrant, and the flavors were perfectly proportioned. 

Osteria Marco is minimally, unassumingly, yet tastefully decorated restaurant, with its main dining area located in the basement!  And while the décor may be somewhat restrained, the flavors are not.  Try the cheese fritters, made from cheese processed right upstairs, with heirloom tomatoes and you won’t be disappointed. 

As a wise man once said “What’s the only thing better than an exquisite meal? A good meal with one minuscule flaw we can pick at all night!”  Unfortunately, Osteria Marco’s flaw arrived at the table along with the check, and surprisingly it wasn’t the price but rather the after dinner mints. 

So all ye travelers and natives alike, head to Osteria Marco for a delicious slice of heaven.  Just remember to bring your own mints.

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy.

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