Diâ€™Markâ€™s, the Philippinesâ€™ pizza pioneer, turns 50 on April 1, 2007. Thatâ€™s a long time to be around and thatâ€™s a lot of pizzas! Diâ€™Markâ€™s started out as a mom â€˜nâ€™ pop operation way back in 1957 by enterprising couple, Arturo and Lita Fernandez, who decided to introduce the Philippines to the pizza that theyâ€™d learned from their Italian neighbors in New York. Named after the coupleâ€™s son, Marky, Diâ€™Markâ€™s Pizza Garden opened for business on Menlo Road in Pasay City on April 1, 1957. Its location near the old American school ensured a market that was familiar with pizza, and later on with Filipinos, who embraced it wholeheartedly.
Kristine Gimenez, one of Arturo and Lita Fernandezâ€™s grandchildren talks of a time when Diâ€™Markâ€™s menus would offer a softdrink and a pizza for less than a peso! â€œGrowing up, we even used to eat pizza for breakfast,â€ she reminisces. â€œPizza is really home food.â€
As part of the third generation now taking care of the business, Kristine counts professionalizing and streamlining the operation as a priority. â€œWeâ€™re still all about quality,â€ she stresses. Unlike other pizza places, all Diâ€™Markâ€™s pizzas are still made by hand. â€œNothing is mechanized here. We still make the pizza like we did 50 years ago. Our crusts arenâ€™t even straight.â€
Taking a look at the menu, Kristine and I go over some of the popular choices. Without a doubt, the Menlo Special (P195-P695) is one of them. A pizza for true cheese lovers, it boasts of mozzarella, kesong puti (native water buffalo cheese), and cheddar cheese. One of the original Diâ€™Markâ€™s pizzas is the Don Arturo (P185-P635). Made by the founder himself, itâ€™s a bastion of Italian sausage, mushrooms, and green peppers, a worthy testament to the work Arturo did when he was employed at a sausage factory in New York. The restaurant was also the first to introduce the Taco Pizza (P235-P765), a taco on a pie of sorts: ground beef, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce hide for cover under a shower of grated cheese. The Big â€œ22â€ (P280-P875) appeals to the more outrageous pizza eaters among us with a massive 22 toppings on a single crust! Eat it the way Kristine’s friend does, with a fried egg on top!
Diâ€™Markâ€™s pizzas have a thin, crunchy crust. It has a very home style feel to it, similar to the pizzas that a mom would make for her kids. I like that the pies arenâ€™t at all oily and that thereâ€™s a good ratio of toppings to crust. Even I, thick crust pizza lover, is satisfied here. Available in three sizes, 8-inch, 13-inch, and 18-inch, itâ€™s enough (roughly) for 1,3, and 5 people respectively.
Do tastes change after 50 years? â€œOur pizzas still taste the same now as they did back then,â€ Kristine believes. â€œWeâ€™re a bit pricier than some because everything is made from scratch or imported. Only the good stuff goes into our food.â€
Slowly, the menu at Diâ€™Markâ€™s has been updated. Kristine speaks highly of the spinach and cheese ravioli (P275), something Iâ€™m also a big fan of, after just one bite. Homemade pasta dough is rolled out and pressed into little dumplings. Delightfully al dente, itâ€™s a dish that has just a whisper of oregano and plenty of tomato sauce. Other things worth trying out are the roasted garlic & shrimp pizza (P200-P695) and the meat eaters pizza (P235-P765).
As with every good family food business, Diâ€™Markâ€™s recipes have either been maintained or improved throughout the years. All items on the menu were borne out of a love for good food. Take the chocolate ice box fudge (P120) for instance. â€œIt was actually a disaster project,â€ Kristine laughs. â€œThey were trying to make some kind of brownies. Anyway, it got mixed up and crumbled and so they dumped fudge in it and it turned out really well.â€
Mamaâ€™s cheesecake (P120), on the other hand, is â€œâ€¦one of my tita’s recipes. Itâ€™s really just a plain, good cheesecake with no toppings.â€
The last dessert, the strawberry shortcake (P180) is a simple made from scratch pound cake topped with strawberries from Baguio that have been frozen in sugar. Drizzled with syrup and a squirt of whipped cream, itâ€™s a dessert that brings you back to the good old daysâ€¦ and to the next 50 years.
On April 1, all Diâ€™Markâ€™s pizzas at all branches will be 50% off. For dine in only.
From April 2-8, Dessert Comes First readers are entitled to:
one (1) FREE chocolate ice box fudge dessert for every order of a LARGE DI’MARK’S PIZZA.
For dine in only. Please print out coupon to avail of the promo.
*2646 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila
404-0683 / 525-5354
*Royale Place Mall, Don Antonio Ave., Commonwealth, Q.C.
932-5888 / 932-7888
*181 Tomas Morato Ave., Q.C.
376-2828 / 376-5858
589 Wack-Wack Road, Mandaluyong
723-5008 / 723-6008
3/F Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati
757-2888 / 7573888