On this trip to Vancouver, I decided to revisit Marcello Pizzeria & Ristorante. This was a trip down memory lane for me as Marcello’s used to be one of my favourite places for thin crust pizza. My friend C had introduced me to this place back in 2006 during my pre-foodie days. Back then, there were very few places offering Neapolitan-style pizza or even quality thin crust pizza for that matter. Fast forward six years and there have been more than half a dozen new Neapolitan-style pizzerias that have surfaced in Vancouver over the past year including Nicli Antica Pizzeria, Pizzeria Farina, Verace, Pizzeria Barbarella, Campagnolo Roma, The Bibo, and Novo Pizzeria. And there are another couple more set to open in the coming months. For myself, during the last six years, I’ve managed to sample thin-crust pizzas from all over including famous places like Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco (CA), Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Portland (OR), Apizza Scholls in Portland (OR), Nostrana in Portland (OR), and Serious Pie in Seattle (WA).
I was really curious what I would think of the pizza from Marcello’s now after having sampled so many different Neapolitan-style pizzas. My friend C and I ordered our favourite pizza, the Prosciutto e Funghi ($14.95 for medium – 30cm; $28.95 for large – 45 cm). The pizza came topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham and mushrooms. Comparatively, this pizza did not have the leoparding (leopard-spotting) that the pizza aficionados look for in a well-made authentic Neapolitan pie nor the light and fluffy, yet crunchy cornicione (crust) with blackened blisters and a slightly soft thin center. I think one of the reasons for the difference is that the oven Marcello’s is kept at 500°F, which is much lower than other places which have their ovens at 700°F or even 900°F. That is not to say this pizza didn’t taste good. It was just different. The flavour combination of the ingredients worked well together and the crust had a nice chewy texture throughout with a slightly crisp exterior. This was certainly heads and shoulders above many places for thin-crust pizza but comparatively, I don’t think it’s in the same league as some of the famous Neapolitan-style pizzerias.
Our other favourite item at Marcello’s is their Spaghetti alla Vongole ($15.95). The spaghetti was perfectly al dente and tossed with clams in a white wine sauce with a touch of fresh tomatoes. I really enjoy this combination of flavours but I thought on this visit, the pasta could have been a tad more flavourful with a bit more sauce. Otherwise, it was as good as I remembered it to be. Though the dish seems to be relatively simple to prepare, I’ve actually had a hard time finding a place that makes it well. I keep on craving Marcello’s version and I’ve tried to order a similar dish at various Italian restaurants in Calgary and have never found one comparable to the version from Marcello’s. I like that they use some fresh clams in this version rather than just a whole pile of frozen clam meat like the other versions that I’ve had.
I still really like the decor at Marcello’s, even after their recent renovations. Their Neapolitan style wood-burning oven is an impressive showpiece as it is in the shape of the sun to represent the Sun God, who is the Mediterranean symbol of prosperity. The service on this visit was as good as always. Many people have commented about having issues with the service at Marcello’s. Fortunately, I’ve never experienced any issues with the service at Marcello’s on any of my visits over the years. This visit was no exception. Our server was friendly and prompt and our food arrived in no time. Perhaps, I’ve just been lucky. Overall, I really enjoyed my meal at Marcello’s on this visit. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the food has not changed much and was as good as in the past.
Marcello Pizzeria & Ristorante
1404 Commercial Drive