So, Osteria Marco is a gem. I shouldn't even tell you because it will just become overly popular and will be impossible to get in.
We started the evening at Cru in Larimer Square to have a glass of wine before dinner. Our waiter was very friendly and helpful, but not everyone wase satisfied with his recommendations. Oh, well...it was only one drink. We were in the lounge downstairs, which is a very cool space. Now, I have to point out, I didn't realize this was a chain until today. Worse yet, it's a chain based in Texas. I try not to eat or drink at chains with any frequency (exception sometime being Colorado based eatries). Ah well. Now I know.
We headed across the street to a pleasantly crowded Osteria Marco in the basement. Our server was knowledgable and attentive...and patient as it took us ages to order and get through our food. The prices are very reasonable. We started with a bunch of appetizers. We did the chefs selection of house made cheeses. They were served with grilled bread and each one was excellent. There was a ricotta, a gorgonzola, a triple cream and a mozzarella. The ricotta was mild and creamy; it had a wonderfully light texture and spread on bread like soft butter. The mozzarella was soft and had just the right amount of salt. The triple cream was decadent and wonderfully flavorful. Last and maybe least (but still very good), the gorgonzola was really quite mild for a blue; very tasty.
We also got some marinated olives, proscuitto (parma) and the ciccioli (braised pulled pork...I believe it was braised in duck fat). Okay, I realize this is excessive for three people for starters, but it was really hard to decide. The proscuitto was devine. Salty and creamy and simply presented folded on a plate. I have to mention that 5 pieces or so for $8 seemed a bit steep, but it was very good nonetheless. The olive marinade was a bit strong for my taste, but my sister in law ate them with gusto, so it's just my palate that didn't agree. The pork had been recommended by our waiter and maybe pork isn't our thing, but it was just too rich for me. A bite was enough. If you're a pork fan though, I'd jump on it if I were you.
On to dinner...we had so much to start with we ended up ordering two pizzas and a salad. The salad was a bit diminuitive, but utterly delicious. Arugula perfectly dressed and sprinkled with golden raisins and pine nuts lightly mounded on a small plate. Then (yes, more proscuitto) a proscuitto and fresh mozzarella pizza topped with arugula. Utterly delicious (and a LOT of proscuitto). And finally a wild mushroom and robiola pizza. I am a devout lover of all things mushroom and this pizza did not disappoint (though a few of the mushrooms left something to be desired texturally). My mushroom pizza was so popular, there was only one slice left upon departure.
Somehow we were talked into dessert. I blame my sister in law. So we had a molten chocolate cake with chocolate gelato. Perfect in every way, except that in her gusto to dig in, my sister in law burned the roof of her mouth. Probably why it's 'molten'. Oh, well.
Wine selection is extensive and wonderful. Our server steered us towards a very moderately priced red that was perfect with our food.
All in all it was a wonderful meal. Hell, there's a chance we may go back to Osteria Marco within the week.