The Takeaway: Marquee Pizzeria’s sweet and spicy pie is my new vice

Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

I have heard it said that pizza is like sex: even when it’s bad, it’s good and when it’s good, it’s amazing. I tend to agree. I’ve had slices from school cafeterias, gas stations, bars, food trucks, mall food courts and upscale pizzerias — and I’d eat every one of them again. Pizza is never a mistake.

Pizza is also one of my partner’s and my “fallback foods” for those days when we’ve had the same “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t know” conversation 16 times and know that it may end in breakup or bloodshed if we have it again. We were both already slightly hangry when we started trying to decide what to have for dinner last night, so after the fourth or fifth “I don’t know” I decided to order pizza while we still loved each other.

As with many other foods, I have standard pizza toppings that I tend to return to repeatedly: sausage and/or pepperoni, maybe mushrooms, maybe some artichokes or fresh basil if I’m feeling adventurous. The question with pizza is whether we’re in the mood for a classic, simple interpretation or something a little different. We decided to depart from old standbys and try something new and a little unusual this time, so we ordered from Marquee Pizzeria.

Marquee opened in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing in 2017. The concept is described as “Neapolitan meets New York,” and the pizzas are cooked in an imported Italian 90-degree, wood-fired oven that can cook a pizza in as little as 90 seconds.

Most importantly for me, many of their pizzas fit my favored category of “familiar with a twist.” We ordered the Falco, Grandma’s Hands and Vice City, all of which featured at least one of my habitual toppings, plus at least one ingredient unique to these particular pies.

A wood-fired pizza being prepared at Marquee Pizzeria + Bar in Coralville. — Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

Grandma’s Hands was the closest to pizzas I’ve had before with just three ingredients: sauce, pepperoni and cheese. The twists came from both the pepperoni and the cheese. The slices of pepperoni — referred to on the menu as “Iowa pepperoni” — were about two-thirds the size of those you usually see on pizza and were spicier and smokier than any pepperoni I’ve had before. They were also a bit thicker cut and chewier. A subtle, but significant, difference. The pizza has two cheeses: mozzarella and caciocavallo (fun fact, the name means “cheese on horseback,” due to how it’s dried: two teardrop-shaped forms tied together straddling a board). I had never previously heard of or tasted caciocavallo. It was a bit firmer than the mozzarella, with a similar amount of stretch and an earthier, more complex flavor. Both the pepperoni and cheese created a depth and complexity of flavor on what could have been a one-note pizza.

The next step up in complexity was the Falco. It was topped with sausage, red onion, breadcrumbs, fresh basil and garlic and parmigiano cheese. Still pretty classic, but the sweetness of the red onion, the bite of fresh garlic and the salt and nuttiness of the cheese elevated the flavors of this simple combo. Additionally, since parmigiano is a harder cheese than mozzarella, it added a lot of flavor while taking up less space and mouthfeel than cheese typically does on a pizza. This kept the textures and flavors of the breadcrumbs, garlic and basil from being overshadowed.

Vice City was the biggest departure from the norm. It was topped with smoked mozzarella, parmigiano, sausage, pepperoni, green onion, pickled pepper sauce and hot honey. This was Mike’s suggestion, and I was skeptical. For one thing, I didn’t know what either hot honey or a pickled pepper sauce would taste like individually, let alone together and in combination with the other toppings. I also believe that putting sweet ingredients on pizza is a cardinal sin. I figured that this pizza would either taste strange, or one flavor would dominate all the others.

I could not have been more wrong. This was our favorite by far. The many toppings created a nuanced and complex flavor so that no one ingredient stood out and none were overpowered. The honey and pepper sauce played off each other beautifully and created a lightly sweet spiciness unlike anything I’ve ever had.

On top of this, the pizzas all featured the hallmarks of wood-fired pizza: a crust that is both crunchy and chewy, delicious in its own right, with ingredients that stay slightly more intact and retain more of their texture and brightness of flavor due to the speed with which they’re cooked.

Marquee was up against the fond memories and high standards of some treasured Cedar Rapids-area establishments — Need, Cappy’s and Zoey’s to name a few — and it held its own against them. The Vice City in particular is a dish designed to create cravings. And since pizza is always a good idea, I plan to indulge in Marquee’s offerings often.

Presented by Chomp

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 294.

[gravityform id="17" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper your-village-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_17' ><a id='gf_17' class='gform_anchor' ></a><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_17' class='your-village-form' action='/the-takeaway-marquee-pizzeria/#gf_17'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_17' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_17_7' class='gfield gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><h3 style="font-weight:800; font-size:34px;">Let's get started</h3> <p style="font-size:18px;">Fill out this form and we'll contact you with information about marketing with Little Village!</p></li><li id='field_17_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' for='input_17_4_3' ></label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name gfield_trigger_change' id='input_17_4'> <span id='input_17_4_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_4.3' id='input_17_4_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='2' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='First name'/> <label for='input_17_4_3' >First</label> </span> <span id='input_17_4_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_4.6' id='input_17_4_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' tabindex='4' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='Last name'/> <label for='input_17_4_6' >Last</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_17_5' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_5' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_17_5' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='6' placeholder='Company name' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_17_3' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_3' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_3' id='input_17_3' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='7' placeholder='Your email address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"/> </div></li><li id='field_17_8' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_8' >Email</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_8' id='input_17_8' type='text' value='' /></div><div class='gfield_description'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_17' class='gform_button button' value='SUBMIT' tabindex='8' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; jQuery("#gform_17").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=17&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='17' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_17' value='WyJbXSIsIjlmNzc1YTEyZmZjNmYyODk5Mzk0NDM3ZjRlOGYyZDNmIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_17' id='gform_target_page_number_17' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_17' id='gform_source_page_number_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js_1" name="ak_js" value="129"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_ajax_frame_17'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 17, '' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_17').load( function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_17');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_17').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').offset().top); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_17').val();gformInitSpinner( 17, '' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [17, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_17').offset().top);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [17]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_17').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> if(typeof gf_global == 'undefined') var gf_global = {"gf_currency_config":{"name":"U.S. Dollar","symbol_left":"$","symbol_right":"","symbol_padding":"","thousand_separator":",","decimal_separator":".","decimals":2},"base_url":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope","number_formats":[],"spinnerUrl":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope\/images\/spinner.gif"};jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 17) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, 1]) } ); </script>