Columbia enjoying proliferation of pizza.

A Google search for "pizza places in Columbia, S.C." yields dozens of different options. Chicago-style deep dish and New York style-thin crust can be found mere miles apart from each other.

Two new pizzerias in downtown Columbia will soon join that list, while a Five Points favorite is opening a second location across the river.

Citta del Cotone

Rick Marzan already has a reputation for pizza. He opened and ran Noah's Antico Pizza, named after his son, in Irmo from 2012 to 2015. He is now opening a new store at 2150 Sumter St. in the Cottontown neighborhood. The new restaurant is called Citta del Cotone, Italian for Cottontown, and is slated to open in October.

"This neighborhood was booming, and downtown has become a hotspot," Marzan said. "I didn't want to go to the Vista because we would be surrounded by chain restaurants. This place is going to be something special."

Though his name has become known in area restaurant circles, Marzan didn't think he'd ever come back to South Carolina after graduating from Spring Valley High School.

"I went to the University of Kentucky to play football, and ended up playing professional baseball before joining the corporate world," Marzan said. "I quickly realized that world was not for me, so I went to New York to study theatre."

Marzan's time in baseball included a role in the 1988 comedy "Bull Durham" starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. Marzan played Jose, the unlucky player with a cursed glove. But though Marzan spent 24 years in California, but said he never felt like he fit in.

His passion for pizza grew from his relationship with Pepe Miele, the president of the North American branch of Vera Pizza Napoletana. The international organization was founded in 1984 as a way to promote and protect true Neapolitan pizza made in accordance with rules described in its International Regulations Book.

"Pepe taught me the art of making Neapolitan pizza, and I became very passionate about the process," Marzan said. "In February of 2010, I packed my truck and headed back across the country. During that time, I formulated my business plan for the Irmo store."

Marzan said his Neapolitan pizza is special because of tomatoes and flour that he has imported from Italy. He also uses a special mixer to make his dough. His biggest seller at the Irmo store was called the Noah, which featured tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, bacon and blueberries.

Marzan said his Cottontown store will have set pizzas, not build your...

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