Mario’s Pizzeria is a Long Island icon. 35 years ago, the first Mario’s Pizzeria opened in Oyster Bay. Since then, it’s expanded to six additional locations throughout Long Island in Syosset, Plainview, Seaford, Westbury, East Northport, and Great Neck.
Mario’s in Great Neck is located on Great Neck Road, just across from the Waldbaum’s shopping center. I wouldn’t call it the “neighborhood pizza joint” (that title falls distinctly to Gino’s) nor would I call it an “Italian restaurant” (I’ve probably have to give that to Oevo). I think the best way to summarize it is that it falls squarely in the middle.
One thing that Mario’s has a lot of is coupons. If you look at the back of your Waldbaum’s receipt, in your Valpak, in your Square Deals book, or anywhere else you find coupons, chances are you’ll find one for Mario’s. In my case, I happened to have a coupon for a free baked Ziti with purchase of a pizza.
I ordered the special pizza with Pepperoni, Sausage, Meatball, Mushroom, Green Peppers, Onions, Pizza Sauce, Mozzarella and Romano Cheese. It was not cheap at $20, but the ziti made the price a little easier to swallow. Wanting to compare apples-to-apples, we also ordered the linguini in clam sauce just like we did at Gino’s.
Mario’s is laid out simple. There are tables to one side and booths to the other. When we were there they were hosting a birthday party for a teenage girl, which they did in a way that didn’t get in the way of their regular diners.
We started out with fresh bread, which was delectably soft on the inside with a crisp outer crust.
The baked ziti was just the way it should be. Gooey cheese all over the top with just the right amount of a crispy baked cheese layer on top. The whole thing was topped with a fresh, savory, and slightly sweet marinara sauce on top. The ziti was excellent as good baked ziti should be, soft and al dente on the bottom, drier and chewy on the top.
The linguine in clam sauce was definitely fresher than the one we had at Gino’s. It came with real, fresh clams and the bits of clam in the pasta definitely had the chewy fresh snap. The flavor was definitely different; Gino’s had a more garlicy taste while this one was a lighter, buttery taste.
Now, onto the pizza. One thing I noticed a while back is that Mario’s crust tends to be a little thick and “gooier” than others. As I wrote in my Gino’s review, good pizza is in the eye of the beholder. In my case, I prefer a more traditional New York slice, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a specialty slice or even (gasp) a good deep-dish pizza once in a while.
It’s the specialty slices where Mario’s shines brighter than any other. If I rate it on its own merits and don’t try to compare it to other pizzas, their House Special was amazing. All of the ingredients, from the mushrooms to the meatballs, onions, and tomato sauce were among the freshest I’ve ever had on a pizza.
In the past, I’ve had their buffalo chicken pizza and still crave it from time to time. They have other interesting slices such as cheeseburger pizza and the taco pizza. Sure, things like that would make Raffaele Esposito turn over in his grave, but taste them and you’ll see why they’re so popular.
Great Neck, NY 11021
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:00am – 10:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm
Price Range: $$
Takes Reservations: Yes