Thursday, July 22, 2010
Name: Mario's Pizza
Location: 4700 Vestal Pkwy E Ste 36, Vestal, NY 13850
Phone: (607) 798-9444
Price: $5-$10 per person
Mario's can be found in University Plaza on the Vestal Parkway, hiding out back behind Moghul and Tully's. If there was ever an ideal place for a pizza parlor, this is it. They've got a built in clientele of college students living within aroma-wafting range and seem to be pretty popular among the students. The restaurant itself is nice and big and new with flat-screen televisions gracing the walls. As area pizza places go, this is one of the better looking ones.
I have had Mario's a number of times over the years. It's close to the University, where I work, and we've ordered pizza from Mario's on several occasions. I have to admit, I have always found the pizza to be very average. There are a bunch of people who seem to swear by this stuff. My friend Tom doesn't like anything except for sashimi-grade raw fish and the snootiest of beers, and yet he considers Mario's his "go-to" pizza place. Surely there must be something I'm missing here. Yesterday, I decided to get down to business with a taste test.
I got to Mario's around 1:30 and ordered two slices, one pepperoni and one sausage (each $2.50ish per slice) and quickly commenced eating. I started with the pepperoni slice. Tasting notes as follows:
Bite #1: Hmmm, this crust is crunchy. Crunchier than I would like. For a NY slice, this doesn't fold very easily.
Bite #2: Sauce is standard tomato, a little on the sweet side. Cheese is pretty good and not too thick. Still not digging crust.
Bite #3: Pepperoni is somewhat funky tasting. This crust is thin yet has air bubbles all through it. No wonder it's as brittle as a saltine.
Bite #4: Cheese and sauce and even the pepperoni are fine. I just can't get into this crust.
Bite #5: How far is Grande's and can I make it there and back before my next worldly obligation?
Et cetera. You get the point. Not a bad slice of pizza but the crust was not to my liking. The crust was too airy and cracker-like, toppings were average at best. Meh.
On to the sausage. Now this one I liked quite a bit more. This was foldable and the crust definitely had more flavor. Cheese and sauce were the same as the first, not bad. Sausage was the rabbit turd variety. You know what I mean. The little dots of sausage instead of the bigger chunks. I usually don't prefer that style but it was pretty good, and they certainly don't skimp on the toppings. This was a better slice than the first for sure, but certainly no better than average.
At the end of the day, I'm left with the same opinion I had coming in, still wondering what people see in this place. There are dozens of pizza places in this town. Maybe a hundred. Maybe more. Some are very good. Some are unique. Some are both. Mario's is neither. I can see this place being an awesome hangout spot, and the za is probably pretty boss at 3:00 AM after you've successfully escaped State Street. (Yeah, I'm not going to let that one die anytime soon.) To this guy's taste buds, however, Mario's fails to register among the town's elite pizza parlors. Go to Grande's once and you'll never get Mario's again. Unless you're Tom. ;)