Marquee Pizzeria

So here's the thing... I'm in love. 

I think we all know that I have a special place in my heart (and my stomach) for pizza. Whether that be because my food name is "slice baby" or because I have a pizza tattoo...it's an undeniable fact. Anyways, this little place in Marquee has stolen my heart. Okay, I will fess up and say I probably have some sort of bias as one of my good friends is the man behind the madness.  BUT...once I share all of my reasonings you will shortly see this place is purely magic. 

Reason #1: The ambiance. 

You walk in and feel like you've apparated to Little Italy ( I told you it was magical 😉 ). Between the velvet chairs, reclaimed wood, porch lights, and Ninja Turtle posters - you feel at home. Not to mention the floor to ceiling windows & massive garage door, that yes, will be open on beautiful days (like in late November when its 70 degrees). You have the option of the bar, the "head table" (front line to the oven), family style tables, and high or low tops. My favorite spot is the sofa and rustic table to just post up - get comfy, little boozy & very full.

Reason #2: The oven.

Yes, this thing does deserve a reason all to itself. First of all...it's beautiful and such a showstopper. My favorite part about this whole place is that you are able to see whats happening at all times no matter where you are in the restaurant. This beauty is specially ordered from Modena, Italy (home of the Ferrari). It's the real magic maker- as you will see Chef Will and co. slinging some dough, making simple products turn into pure masterpieces. 

Reason #3: The booze. 

When people have been in the biz for a while, they know what people want. Well...people who know their shit (sorry Iowa folks who love their Busch). Don't get me wrong, you'll be able to get all of that...stuff here, but you won't find it on tap. Those 20 taps are saved for the special craft brews - whether you love a classic IPA or a good 'ol stout you'll find something for those taste buds. Not a beer drinker? No problem, there are a handful of red, whites, and cocktails for you to choose from. Oh and the man behind the magic? He has a thing for some good whiskey...so don't be afraid to ask for some of that. Now we all know what you're interested in...the happy hour. Every day, from 3-6pm - wine by the glass, canned beer (calling all you domestic drinkers) and select drafts are two for one. 

Reason #4: The people. 

Another disclaimer - I was a waitress at Blackstone for four years and those people become your family. Now, three people from this family are housed at Marquee. But again, I have some unbiased reasonings. Let's start with the pizza master - Anthony Falco aka Falco aka @millennium_falco - an International Pizza Consultant, founder of Roberta's in NY. Once I heard he would be consulting for Marquee's pies I was itching to meet him...and he lived up to the expectation. I absolutely loved observing him teaching all things 'za and seeing how the perfectionism came so naturally. Everyone else on board front of house & kitchen are great people. They always greet you with a smile on their face and ready to serve you the best eats.

Reason #5: The menu

I mean, lets be real - you should never neglect yourself of some pizza...BUT there is plenty to offer incase you're staying away. It's broken down by Garden & Market, Not Pizza and Pizza (we will get to the pizza later). My all time favorite non-pizza item are the brussels - cranberries, pancetta, hazelnuts, and a calabrian honey mustard. I'm not kidding yall, I will burn my mouth every time I order this dish because I simply can NOT wait. Another gem...the brick o mozza - and they aren't kidding. Imagine a mozzarella stick in a massive brick form. They also offer some other green dishes, a burger, cheese & meat plates, fries, burger, and pasta dishes. Now I haven't been able to try everything, but by the looks of it - the tastiness flows across all dishes. 

 Reason #6: THE ZA!

I know it's taken me a while, but save best for last right?!
How do you like it...Classic? Spicy? Cheeseless? Cheesy? Nontraditional? They've got you covered. 

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The basic bitch who always gets invited - "Margherita"

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Tastes like home - "Grandma's Hands"

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Sweet & Spicy - "Sweet Angelo" - pickled chillies & hot honey are the kickers.

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No Cheese, No Problem - "The Falco" (self explanatory) - Chunks of garlic & pork sausage steal the show. 

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Brussels & Pizza = "Brusselmania"...you knew I had to love this one. 

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You like mushrooms? The Wulfy - "Wulfenstein" is for you. 

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Fall is calling - "Squashed" - don't forget the goat cheese 

The one's untasted - Young Cheezy (the white pizza of everyone's dreams); Coppa Cabana (the pasta pizza sans noodles) and Spicy Pie (need I say more). 

 

This was a lot of words, but it's simple as this. Do you like pizza? Go to Marquee. 

IC BLOCK PARTY

Who knew drinking in the streets could be so much fun...

Iowa City Downtown District always has something going on - different festivals multiple times a year to get the community together. These festivals have lots of activities, beer gardens, food carts, and live music. This year, they threw one for the books...the Downtown Block Party. 

This "party" had lots of activities including a sand volleyball tournament, dueling pianos, a fashion show, ping pong tables, tether ball, and so much more...ALL in the streets of our downtown. Here's a glimpse at the layout of the whole day...oh and did I mention the best part?! YOU COULD DRINK IN THE STREETS!!

All you had to do is purchase a $10 cup, receive a wristband, and then you could purchase a drink from one of the outside vendors. A lot of the restaurants had tables set up selling food & booze...well beer & wine only. 

Like I mentioned there was a lot to do and see - like an on going beach volleyball tournament in the middle of the streets. I opted out of playing, but it was fun to watch...as long as you weren't getting hit in the head by a wild serve. 

First stop was outside of Java House for Clinton Street Social Club's $1 oysters...yup, you read that right. ONE DOLLAR. It was Ethan's first time to give them a try, I think it may have been his last. BUT, I sure enjoyed mine. 

Our go to for the night was Pullman's frosé. Probably one of the "pricier" options of the night, but $7 for a cocktail is never bad in my book. I think we each had 3 of these...damn it was great. 

Next up was PiZan Pizza. This is a new joint in town where you order Subway style - pick what you want and they cook it right there. We went with the Average Joe - red sauce, fresh mozzi, Graziano's sausage, Citterio pepperoni, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, 86 mushrooms (not my choice). Overall solid quick pie...and it was under $10. 

E was still a little hungry so he went for Mama's Deli . He grabbed two tacos - pulled pork and chicken. 

The best part about this event was that there was always something to do and people to see. I'm always a fan when I get to see this gem of a human and all of her Iowa City friends...

This was one hell of an event. Great food & drinks, plenty of things to do, being able to be free and walk around with some frosé in hand, while chatting with everyone around! I think they thought of it all, they even had FREE parking until 10 am the next day to allow peeps to leave their cars and get them the next day, safety first!

IOWA CITY...CAN WE DO THIS EVERY WEEKEND? 

Big Grove Iowa City

For all of yall that aren't in the Iowa City area - let me fill ya in....downtown IC is constantly growing. Every time I find myself heading that way, there is something being constructed. Usually I'm only semi-curious, however when I heard Big Grove was opening up a location in Iowa City, I was more than just curious - I was pumped. Time had gone by and in all honesty, I forgot it was happening until the day had come that it was open.

Let me start off by telling you this place is beautiful & huge. Formally a warehouse, space is not a problem, plus there are pingpong tables to pass the time as well as a killer stage for live bands. I mean can we talk about that wood wall & graphic - LOVE IT! 

I went for the PRALINES & RICHARD (10.5% abv - oops) and it was perfection. It's described as: Richard the Whale with roasted pecans and almonds combine with the vanilla from the barrel. That's how you get our play on a famous ice cream flavor. 

The food set up is a little different based off of international street food. You also go up to order & pay for food and then receive a buzzer to know when your food is ready. I can imagine there will be some haters about this - but I am a major fan. 

We wanted to try a bit of everything so we went for - chips & guac, pollo chipotle & pork belly tacos, & the pastrami sandwich (House made pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island, rye bread)

The tacos - top: pollo chipotle tacos (Roasted chicken thigh, chipotle sauce, pepitas, cojita cheese, white onion, cilantro wrapped in a housemade corn tortilla) & bottom: pork belly tacos (crispy Pork belly, adobo, slow simmered salsa verde, grilled pineapple, white onion, & cilantro wrapped in a housemade corn tortilla)

Holy Hell - these were good. The pollo chipotle was just a tad spicy for Ethan & I since we have very baby spice levels. The pork belly was unreal though - so flavorful. Also, I love the corn tortillas, they were thin but held everything together and obviously home made. 

The guac & pastrami sandwich :  (House made pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island, rye bread)

Guacamole is self explanatory - but it was damn good. The pastrami (which we were interested in because the house made pastrami at Big Grove Solon is AMAZING) was so good. I usually stay away from things with swiss and sauerkraut but this gooey mess was worth every single bite. 

I can't wait for the summer where beers & outdoors are what fill my day to day. this will definitely be a new hot spot for me, as well as many people in iowa city. 

Backpocket Brewing

When I was playing volleyball at the University of Iowa, I was fortunate enough to have some great parents that came as often as they could. They would come in on Friday morning, we'd grab lunch (at a new spot each time) I'd play some volleyball, they'd go to the football game Saturday, I'd play some more volleyball and we would hang out at the Marriott. Now, in the same parking lot from the Marriott is this brewery called, Backpocket - where they obviously serve beer and pizza pies and we'd order up the beer cheese and a few pies to eat in the hotel room. 

As you all know I love myself some pizza. Something else you might also know is that our family (especially my dad) loves them some beer. So, when dad was in town for a few days and we needed to grab a good quick bite (that wasn't downtown), I knew BP was the place to go. 

This was the first time I was able to head back and give them a try since they changed up their pie menu. 

BBQ CHICKEN - Sriracha bourbon bbq sauce, chicken, jalapeno, goat cheese, pecorino, red pepper sauce. 

Now I originally chose this pie because E loves him some BBQ chicken - didn't go as far as to check the Sriracha & jalapenos. For a kid that doesn't like heat this was a big "oops". None the less, it was a good pie, I didn't love the bbq sauce but the heat of the jalapenos (that we picked off) brought some good extra flavor. 

MARGHERITA - fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato sauce

Lets be real, can you go wrong with a margherita pizza? If so, chances are you shouldn't have a pie place homie. Anyways, basic but good. 

FLAMBE caramelized onions, pork belly, fresh mozzarella, pecorino, bechamel sauce

I originally ordered this one for Dad (pork belly duh!), but it turned out to be my favorite. I LOVE a white sauce on pizzas, however that is one of the few things Ethan won't do at for our home pies (that and mushrooms) so receiving that was a pleasant surprise. I just wanted to hoard all of the pork belly pieces to myself, it was different & delicious. 

 

All in all, the new pies were great. It's quick & easy & tasty. Also, I love how they cut them in an almost zig zag - you got a bit of everything in each piece. 

Rise n°1 Round 2

New traditions can be scary, but not when they involve souffles.

First off, I can't get over how cute this place is. It's the little things that can make or break an atmosphere and their bread plates & cloth napkins make it. 

It all started off with some great bread (how cute is their bread board) and some prosecco. 

First Course
Tomato Basil Soup - Tomato basil soup with "marshmallow" souffles & pesto drizzle

Second Course
Crab souffle - crab, boursin cheese with red peppers & chives
Stuffed poblano - Poblano pepper stuffed with shrimp & grits with a goat cheese souffle

Third Course
Pumpkin Souffle - pumpkin dessert souffle with a cream drizzle & side of freshly whipped cream