- Pizzeria Da Marco's central feature is a Stefano Ferrara brick oven, imported from Naples, that cooks a pizza in 60 seconds.
- Pizzeria Da Marco opens in Bethesda on Monday, May 16.
- Chef Dino Santonicola â€” born and raised in Naples â€” has a photograph of his grandmother hanging near the pizzeria's entrance.
- The pizzeria has seating for about 130 people inside with an additional 20 seats outside.
- The marble bar is paneled with wine crates that general manager Alessandro Ferro collected himself.
- Walls, too, are lined with wine crates to show that Pizzeria Da Marco is also all about wine.
Bethesda's getting a little infusion of Naples on Monday with the grand opening of the long-awaited Pizzeria da Marco. The certified-authentic Neapolitan pizzeria is helmed by a born-and-bred Neapolitan chef, outfitted with a top-of-the-line Stefano Ferrera brick oven and thoughtfully decorated in warm hues and photography depicting typical Italian street scenes — including one portrait of chef Dino Santonicola's Italian grandmother — all with the intent of keeping it authentic as possible.
And, of course, authenticity in a pizzeria starts with the pie. Pizzeria da Marco originally intended to open in late March but was held up as it awaited the arrival of its prized 4,500-pound hand-crafted brick oven shipped straight from Naples. Partner/general manager Alessandro Ferro explains that while the chef is the most important factor in serving up authentic Neapolitan pizza, the Ferrera oven is like having a Lexus rather than a Toyota thanks to its ability to cook pizzas in a minute or less. And this custom oven has already been burning for about a month to gear up for Monday's opening. An Italian-made gelato machine rounds out the collection of shiny toys at the pizzeria's disposal.
Santonicola himself is pretty authentic, too, having started his career at age 13 as a pizza delivery boy and dishwasher back home in Naples, where pizza is no joke. He says he used to have to pay for each pizza he burned — a practice his staff will be glad he's not instituting at Pizzeria da Marco. The chef became the black sheep of his family in 2004 for departing Italy for the pizzerias of Seattle, where he cooked for six years before switching up coasts.
To match the casual vibe that comes naturally to any pizzeria, Pizzeria da Marco is decked out in warm oranges (channeling Tuscany), exposed brick and a marble bar lined with wine crates that Ferro collected himself to emphasize the restaurant's love of wine. (There will be 45-50 Italian wines available by the bottle.) Wood piles are stacked neatly throughout the restaurant for use in the oven. More space in the back of the restaurant provides quieter dining than the open main dining room.
Pizzeria da Marco's menu is very classic Italian — antipasti options include bruschetta, focaccia and mozzarella caprese, along with salads and a few calzones. Two of the six classic pizzas headlining the menu are margherita pizzas (one using buffalo mozzarella) and the others are minimalist with mushrooms, soppressata or just plain marinara. There are another eight specialty pizzas on offer, including a vegetarian, a white pizza and an "Americana" pizza with pepperoni. And, as we told you before, customers get one pizza free on opening day.