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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mario’s Pizza: Quiet but dependable after 30 years

    Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Adrian Chacon, a Pima Community College student and employee at Marios Pizza, brings a pizza hot out of the oven to a to-go box. Marios is a local Tucson restaurant that has been serving up pizza and other Italian favorites, including spaghetti and lasagna, for over 28 years.
    Lisa Beth Earle
    Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat Adrian Chacon, a Pima Community College student and employee at Mario’s Pizza, brings a pizza hot out of the oven to a to-go box. Mario’s is a local Tucson restaurant that has been serving up pizza and other Italian favorites, including spaghetti and lasagna, for over 28 years.

    Perhaps the best way to understand the longevity of Mario’s Pizza is through the two quotes highlighted on its menu: “”Pizza how it ‘oughta’ be … had a piece lately?”” and “”We must be ‘doin’ something right!””

    Visitors might be just as puzzled as to how this neighborhood joint at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Fort Lowell Road has stayed around long enough to enjoy its 30th anniversary. The dining area is smaller than your average high school classroom. You can build another pizzeria on the parking lot and still have plenty of room left over for parking.

    The sign underneath the order window boldly proclaims that there’s no change, no public telephone and, the kicker, no public restrooms.

    The lunch crowd comes and goes at a steady rate and seems to be comprised of people from the neighborhood. A group of coworkers from the bank at the next block are sitting together, sharing the latest office gossip and a pizza pie. An elderly couple sits next to a high school couple. The older gentleman interrupts the two to say how lovely they look together before he returns to his pizza slice.

    And the food? Well, it’s dependable and tastes a little better than many pizza chains.

    Mario’s Pizza’s strongest draw is its daily lunch special. You get a slice of pizza with your choice of topping and a small soda for $2.75. Hungrier diners can order a second slice that will cost you $2.20 extra, which makes this one of the better lunch deals around Tucson.

    The pizza is made New York style, that is, it has a really thin crust that provides a hearty crunch when bitten — sometimes a little too hearty. The cheese and sauce aren’t too salty and there’s an equal ratio of cheese to crust.

    You can even count on something like Mario’s 8-inch meatball sub to provide some familiar comfort. The meatballs are juicy and lightly spiced. The marinara sauce isn’t overwhelming, but it isn’t underwhelming in flavor either. And the toasted sub roll falls apart as easily as the meatballs under slight pressure. Even though no single component stood out, the combined reliability of flavors results in a solid sandwich.

    Service is surprisingly fast. Just as you settle into your chair and turn your head for a moment, the food arrives at your table, which is great if you need to rush to your next class.

    After 30 years of service, Mario’s Pizza has settled into a nice niche for itself. You won’t find anything fancy or extraordinary there, just solid service and a quiet place to enjoy a good slice of pizza.

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