Di’Mark’s, the Philippines’ pizza pioneer, turns 50 on April 1, 2007. That’s a long time to be around and that’s a lot of pizzas! Di’Mark’s started out as a mom ‘n’ pop operation way back in 1957 by enterprising couple, Arturo and Lita Fernandez, who decided to introduce the Philippines to the pizza that they’d learned from their Italian neighbors in New York. Named after the couple’s son, Marky, Di’Mark’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 Fernandez’s grandchildren talks of a time when Di’Mark’s menus would offer a softdrink and a pizza for less than a peso! “Growing up, we even used to eat pizza for breakfast,” she reminisces. “Pizza is really home food.”
As part of the third generation now taking care of the business, Kristine counts professionalizing and streamlining the operation as a priority. “We’re still all about quality,” she stresses. Unlike other pizza places, all Di’Mark’s pizzas are still made by hand. “Nothing is mechanized here. We still make the pizza like we did 50 years ago. Our crusts aren’t even straight.”
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 Di’Mark’s pizzas is the Don Arturo (P185-P635). Made by the founder himself, it’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 “22” (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!
Di’Mark’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 aren’t at all oily and that there’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, it’s enough (roughly) for 1,3, and 5 people respectively.
Do tastes change after 50 years? “Our pizzas still taste the same now as they did back then,” Kristine believes. “We’re a bit pricier than some because everything is made from scratch or imported. Only the good stuff goes into our food.”
Slowly, the menu at Di’Mark’s has been updated. Kristine speaks highly of the spinach and cheese ravioli (P275), something I’m also a big fan of, after just one bite. Homemade pasta dough is rolled out and pressed into little dumplings. Delightfully al dente, it’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, Di’Mark’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. “It was actually a disaster project,” Kristine laughs. “They 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.”
Mama’s cheesecake (P120), on the other hand, is “…one of my tita’s recipes. It’s really just a plain, good cheesecake with no toppings.”
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, it’s a dessert that brings you back to the good old days… and to the next 50 years.
On April 1, all Di’Mark’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