photos by Dakota Fine
all words: Laura Herman
I hate to admit it, but after two years of living, eating, and drinking in DC, I hadn’t ventured far enough up the Red Line to reach Bethesda. This changed yesterday, when I had the pleasure of checking out Pizzeria da Marco, an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria at 8008 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda that opens today.
I knew that I should probably reconsider making more frequent trips out to the ‘burbs as soon as I saddled up to the long marble bar, surveyed the exposed brick in the airy dining room, and spotted a vintage-y photograph of the Italian-born chef’s grandmother holding a giant ball of mozzarella about the size of my head. Liking what I see. Then, once I took one sip of cappuccino (very glad I forgot to ask for skim milk—the whole milk in this tasted heavenly) I instantly forgot about the hell that is waiting for the Metro on a Sunday and getting slightly lost on the short walk to the restaurant.
Pizzeria da Marco is all about simplicity and dedication to the craft of making good pizza. As I got schooled in the art of Neapolitan pizza-making, I learned that the pizza, which is identified by its thin, delicate crust, must be made with specific ingredients and cooked in a particular way to be considered authentic. To do this, Pizzeria da Marco imports special flour, tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and charcuterie from Italy. Executive chef Dino Santonicola is also a certified (yep, it’s a thing) Neapolitan Master Pizzaiolo, and the restaurant is home to an Italian-made and imported brick oven, which is considered the gold standard for making true Neapolitan pizza.
This bad boy heats up to 900 degrees and can cook pizza in 60 seconds flat. Hot damn. Literally.
The main attraction on the menu is—not surprisingly—pizza, as well as calzones, a nice selection of antipasti, and seasonal salads. Antipasti will run you between $9-$14, salads $6.50-$9, and pizzas between $8.50-$15. The one-size 12 inch pizzas can easily feed two, so it’s a pretty budget-friendly spot. The all-homemade dessert menu was also enticing on its own, featuring a Nutella calzone (at this point I was sold on making the trek out again), tartufo, tiramisu, and fresh gelato.
The restaurant itself is effectively split in two, with dining tables on one side and a long, eye-catching bar that runs nearly the length of the restaurant on the other. There are also two private dining rooms and a patio that’ll be open all summer.
The enormous bar, plus a cluster of high-top tables and stools near the entrance make me have high hopes for the beverage side of the house too. Not sure that I’d view it as a standalone drinking destination, but definitely a great place to grab a drink before or after dinner. The wine list is strictly Italian imports, with over 40 bottles and 12 wines by the glass; the beer list includes nine domestics and imports by the bottle, as well as four rotating taps.
Now here’s the best part: to celebrate opening night, Pizzeria da Marco is offering FREE PIZZAS (one per customer—and I promise this will be better than what “free pizza” meant back in college) on Monday, May 16. (TODAY!) Don’t worry if you can’t make it tonight, though; stop by anytime until time May 31st and snag 50 percent off of one pizza. If you’re dining with kids under 12, they’ll also get a free scoop of gelato after dinner.
If you live nearby, I’m officially jealous of your proximity to this promising neighborhood spot. And if you live downtown expand your horizons a bit: Pizzeria da Marco is definitely worth the trip.