Marcellos on Commercial Drive has been operating for quite, predating the recent surge in italian pizzeria places by a good decade or more. It’s predecessor, Lombardo’s in the Il Mercato shopping plaza has been around even longer (I’m aware of the history of these two restaurants, but I’d rather not get into it on this blog. Suffice it to say they both serve pizza and pasta born from the same recipes). We arrived late on a Saturday night, and it was a nearly full house, but they had a table for us, so we were seated immediately.
First we had the pasticiatti.
This is gnocchi in a cream & meat sauce. The gnocchi is soft and pillowy. The sauce is rich and creamy (even though this is meant to be a rose sauce, the cream dominated the tomato flavors), and the meat was browned, savory and well seasoned. I enjoyed this, but I think I prefer red sauces to rose sauces.
Next came our Ai Due Formaggi pizza
This is a thin crust pizza, baked in a wood burning oven, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, salame, baking cheese, mushrooms. The pizza is thin, and firm, and slightly soft in the middle. The tomato sauce is fresh, and the combination of mozzarella and baking cheese adds an interesting contrast (the mozzarella melting and smooth, but the baking cheese, tangy and stretchy). The ham and salame added lots of saltiness and the mushrooms added earthiness. I liked this pizza quite a bit, but found it a bit too cheesy, I should probably order something simpler in the future.
If I’m not mistaken, baking cheese is analogous to German “quark” cheese.
The service was okay. Helpful and polite, if a little overwhelmed. And that’s because this place tends to be pretty busy.
The combination of good food, nice atmosphere, and reasonable prices makes Marcellos one of my favorite pizza places in town. Not to suggest that Via Tevere, Pizza Farina, or Nicli Antica serve a lesser product. They each have terrific pizza, but Marcellos holds a special place in my list of favorites simply because they’ve been doing for so much longer than the others.