Finding good deep dish pizza, you know the kind that was made famous in Chicago, wasn’t easy to come by in Houston until D’Marco’s Pizzeria opened its doors in Sugar Land. If you haven’t tried a slice of their pie yet, now is an excellent time, since they are participating in Houston Black Restaurant Week. Pizza is very personal, and Demarco Jenkins takes his pizza very personally, which is why he decided to open his pizzeria in Houston.
Demarco Jenkins grew up in Chicago with a strong grandmother, a strong mother and a strong father, all of who were entrepreneurs. His grandmother made sure that not only him but that all his cousins had everything they wanted and needed, including a college education. But, as much as he got what he wanted, his grandmother started out poor and in the projects and worked her way up and taught Demarco the value of what he was given and the value of hard work. Demarco grew up surrounded by family and spent summers in Peoria with his Aunt where he would learn small town living at its best. This is where he appreciated the art of having fun.
Demarco went to Florida A&M for his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and got his Graduate degree from Illinois Institute of Technology. His goal was to get a job where he could wear blue jeans and t-shirts every day, so he became an engineer. He migrated into the dot-com industry and went to work with IBM for a little while in San Jose, and moved back to Chicago and worked for 3 Comm and then after 9/11 happened, everyone was let go. Then he got a government job, where he stayed for 11 years. After he had his first child, he realized that he wanted a better quality of life in a better neighborhood, but had restrictions as to where he could live in his current job, so he started to look for a job and landed in Houston.
In his new home, he and his wife were looking for the perfect pizza, missing the Chicago deep dish pie, but couldn’t find the taste of the pizza they were looking for. So, Demarco took matters into his hands and wrote a letter to his favorite pizzeria in Chicago and asked them if they could purchase their recipes for their pizza. After 6 or 7 months of phone calls, the owners, who Demarco calls mama and papa, agreed to just give him the recipes with the promise that if he ever opened a restaurant they wanted to come down and help him get started. At the time, Demarco just knew he wanted a good pizza.
Demarco Making D’Marco’s
Demarco knew how to cook and did all the cooking at home, but he had never made pizza, and as he got the recipes, the idea of opening the pizzeria started to take hold. He got the recipes in October and an international pizza convention was coming up in Las Vegas, so he and his wife decided to go and check it out, to see what it might take to open a restaurant. In December, Demarco tried to replicate the pizza’s at home and decided to go through the nuances of the ingredients. There was much back and forth with how much of this and that as far as ingredients went into the crust until they figured out what the exact recipe would be for the base, and not for 25 pounds of dough, but Demarco was just trying to make a pound a night.
After Demarco had gotten comfortable and the recipe was right, Demarco started to take the pizza to friends homes to see if they liked it, and when it was well received, he began to look for locations. On February 28 Demarco found the perfect location, which was a pizzeria that had gone out of business, which was on a Friday. On Monday, Demarco was laid off from his job, and two weeks later he and his wife went to the convention to learn as much as they could in as short a time as possible.
Mama and Papa came down for ten days to help Demarco and his wife get D’Marco’s Pizzeria open on a Saturday, June 14.
Demarco has a play on his name, and the joke is that he does have an Italian in his family, his Grandmother married an Italian. D’Marco’s Pizzeria was successful from the beginning because he had a write up in the paper and the first two months he would run out of food. That built the base of his business, and then the rest was by word of mouth. What sets D’Marco’s Pizzeria apart from the rest is not just the crust, but the fact that all the ingredients are all natural. They don’t use anything that has additives, fillers or preservatives, and they make all their sausage and everything is fresh. This includes the dressings and sodas that are served.
D’Marco’s Pizzeria competes in pizza competitions across the country, and they consistently place well with their pizzas. D’Marco’s Pizzeria puts love into their pizza and the people who eat there know it and can taste it. For those that don’t want to eat pizza, they also serve pasta and salads, and they do offer a gluten-free crust as well, but it’s not their recipe.
D’Marco’s has gotten traction because the pizza is awesome, people are talking about it, and they do the competitions. For Houston Black Restaurant Week, head over to D’Marco’s, who will be serving up slices of his famous pizza and other goodies from his Sugar Land location that is at 11102 South Highway 6. Look for Demarco and tell him hello, because he Just Vibes Houston!
My destiny is pizza and I get to wear blue jeans and t-shirts to work every day. The competitions make me better at what I do. What matters is what comes out of the kitchen. Sometimes you have to jump into what you want to do and fill a need that needs to be filled. You have to invest yourself into something. If you stop that’s failure, but if you keep moving on, then you will be okay, you just can’t quit.