Lucali / Instagram

Lucali’s Mark Iacono Is Starting to Realize He’s a Great Pizza-Maker

Reflecting on his 16 years in the business for Interview Magazine, the legendary pizzaiolo still seems surprised by his success.

  • Speaking to Interview Magazine, Mark Iacono said he has often questioned whether his pizza at Brooklyn institution Lucali is “really that good.”
  • Celebrities like Beyonce and Mark Wahlberg think so, but they still have to wait in line like everyone else, Iacono noted.

Related: Women in Pizza: How pizzaiolas are shaping the industry’s future

After 16 years as owner of Lucali, an acclaimed pizzeria in Brooklyn that attracts A-list actors and celebrities, Mark Iacono finally seems ready to believe the hype about his pizza-making skills. Almost.

Iacono sat down with Interview Magazine recently to talk about pies and the people with famous names who frequent his restaurant.

“You know, I stand back there, and I wonder, ‘Why? Why is it like this?’” Iacono told Interview. “And I kept questioning, ‘Is my pizza really that good?’ And here we are 16, 17 years in, and I’m starting to think that maybe the pizza is that good.”

Iacono opened Lucali in 2006. It’s the kind of “pizza joint” where you might spot Beyonce (who reportedly likes jalapenos and extra sauce) and Jay Z munching on slices. The eatery’s Instagram account also shows Iacono hobnobbing with Mark Wahlberg, Padma Lakshmi, Michael Imperioli, Kyrie Irving, even the New York Yankees.

In 2013, Iacono launched a second Lucali in Miami and also owns a slice shop called Baby Luc’s in Brooklyn.

a hand shakes out some red pepper flakes on a cheese pizza at Lucali
Lucali / Instagram

He told Interview that Lucali’s success was “totally organic.” He had no prior restaurant experience.

In fact, as Iacono told Forbes in February 2022, “I really don’t know the exact science of the pizza. I know what I like, and that’s what I created. Somehow, I got lucky. But Lucali was originally supposed to be a slice joint, and it somehow morphed….I’ve been messing with everything from dough to different sauce recipes. I’ve tried every kind of cheese, every kind of flour 10 different ways, and I think I’m right there with the pie.”

“It’s more technique than recipe—proofing techniques, the cooking techniques,” Iacono continued. When he’s making pies with a new oven, he said, “I try not to tweak the recipe [and] try to adjust to the oven. I was in Naples, cooking with one guy…his recipe, his dough, his sauce, his cheese, his oven—and I pulled out a totally different pie just in the cooking technique…There’s a lot more that goes into what you’re trying to achieve other than the water, flour and yeast.”

In the Interview story, Iacono said he doesn’t take reservations for the rich and famous. “They get in line. The only people who get a reservation here are my regulars.”

“Listen, I’m not mentioning any names, but you’ll see a lot of them standing on the sidewalk with everyone else,” he added.

Then he went on to name a name. “I’ll tell you my Ed Sheeran story. I’m making pizza and look out the window and, on that stoop right here, is some guy with red hair. I’m looking at the guy like, ‘That looks like Ed Sheeran. Is that Ed Sheeran sitting on the stoop across the street?’ He was out there drinking wine with his girlfriend…He walked up, asked for a table [and] they told him, ’45 minutes!’ And there was Ed Sheeran sitting across the street.”