What’s Good Here? Noah’s Antica Pizzeria

Special to The StateJuly 16, 2014 

What’s good here?

Pizza – and this is not the delivery establishment pizza that many have grown up with. Owner Rick Marzan calls it “antica” pizzeria with good intention. The Latin word antica alludes to ancient.

Marzan’s pizzeria serves pizza created the ancient way – with Caputo flour (from a mill in Naples, Italy) and San Marzano tomatoes, grown near Mount Vesuvius, also in Naples. Only the freshest, locally cultivated organic herbs are also used. What Marzan offers customers is a true Neapolitan pie cooked in a hand-crafted oven at 900 degrees for 90 seconds so that the crust is light and crispy on the outside, but moist and tender on the inside.

There two kinds of pizza: with tomato sauce (Pomodoro style) and without (Bianco style). A few of the popular Pomodoro pizzas are Margherita – simply made with fresh mozzarella and basil; Calabrese – with added salami, and Tagliata – with mozzarella, sirloin steak, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers.

Marzan is constantly experimenting; an adventurous and noteworthy result is his Pizza Noah: tomato sauce, mozzarella, pancetta and blueberries. There are many others on the Pomodoro list. Some highlights of the Bianco menu include one with fig preserves, mozzarella, arugula, and prosciutto.

There is also Gamberi with pesto, mozzarella, chopped tomatoes, onions, shrimp, and balsamic vinegar glaze. Trevigiana has mozzarella, chopped peaches, gorgonzola, walnuts and honey, while Milton features mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, chopped tomatoes, caramelized onions and pistachio puree. Marzan says he enjoys marrying different flavors so that each bite is burst of flavors.

What else?

The Caprese salad has sliced tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil and glazed balsamic vinegar; plus, there is bruschetta as well as a crab cake on a bed of chopped tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella and glazed balsamic vinegar. For dessert, for those who still have room, Noah’s has cannoli, cheesecake, and apple tart.

How did Noah’s get its start?

Marzan has a son named Noah Alexander – hence the establishment’s name. However, Marzan was far from an occupation as restaurateur for many years.

Although born in Puerto Rico and raised primarily in Europe as an “Army brat,” his parents settled in Columbia and he graduated from Spring Valley High School. He was an athlete with his sights on a pro career until an injury curtailed his plans.

Instead, he eventually studied acting and landed his first role on the film Bull Durham, playing “Jose” – a superstitious first baseman. He moved to Los Angeles and worked as an actor for several years.

However, one thing Marzan always did for friends and family was cook. It became his passion and his focus. “I realized my real profession was right in front of me.” He decided to settle back in Columbia and introduce the city to authentic Neapolitan pizza.

What does the place look like?

Marzan says he purposely opened in an out-of-the way spot in Ballentine to test his pizzas. He says he figured that if they were good enough, word of mouth advertising would bring patrons from all over the Columbia area. He was right.

Although it is located in a small space in a tiny strip center along Saint Andrews Road in Irmo, Noah’s has a friendly come-as-you-are ambiance with an open kitchen and plenty of welcoming conversation from Marzan and his business partner, Chuck Newman. Marzan’s goal is to educate everyone who walks through the door about the “pizzaiolo” adventure that awaits them.

The restaurant’s color scheme is tan and red, with two- and four-top tables as well as longer tables for larger parties. Marzan’s goal is to eventually open another location in the busier Vista area to serve those in downtown Columbia.

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