Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hometown Favorite

Whenever I return to my home town of Wadsworth, OH there are two places that always sing their siren song to me. One of them is a submarine shop called the Sub Station. The other place is a mom and pop shop that has been around since 1970 that has seen itself expand from a small restaurant capable of seating maybe 25-30 to a ginormous place on the busy end of town that now seats well over 100 in the main restaurant and has a banquet room as well. I speak of the beloved Marie's Pizza restaurant.

Now, make sure you go to the address in the link given above. Both Yahoo and Google searches on "Marie's Pizza Wadsworth" came up with a link to their OLD address. They are actually right off of I-94 just north of I-76, right across the street from the National City Bank.

In their old incarnation, it was simple food, prepared well. A favorite has always been the pizza. In fact, it won the best pizza in Akron award in 1976, I believe. Other favorites were lasagna, spaghetti and fabulous garlic bread. When they moved into their new location, they decided to revamp the menu. While keeping that which made them a local favorite, they also added additional menu items. Now, I'll have to be honest and say that I don't go to Marie's for their honey teriyaki chicken (which sadly, they did add). However, some of the new items like the chicken parmesan sandwich are a real hit with me. It is unfortunate that they feel that in order to compete with all the "TGI McChilibees" in the world, they felt like they had to diversify. At least they didn't take the good stuff off the menu.

I decided to go with an old favorite, the simple pepperoni pizza. I got a medium for $10.29. This is a pie adequately sized to feed between 2-3 adults. The thing I like about Marie's pizza is that the crust is somewhere right in the middle between thin crust and deep dish. While Marie's does source some of what they serve in the restaurant from Sysco, I verified with my server that Marie's makes their own dough and their own sauce from scratch. Honestly, you can really tell by just looking, smelling, and finally, tasting the finished product.

First off, a whole pie shot as delivered to my table:

And the obligatory shot of a single slice with red pepper flakes (added by me):

The one thing that Marie's has improved upon since moving into their new home is the absence of the layer of grease that used to float on top of the pie. You never really thought about it when you were eating it hot, but trust me that the next day when seeing it cold, the sight could be off-putting.

Here's what I like about Marie's: it tastes DAMN good. It also tastes like home. The sauce is fresh, the toppings are nice, the bread is crusty and soft. It's just a well integrated pizza: not too much or too little of any one component. It's a slice you could eat with your hands or with a knife and fork. I especially like the crust. While certainly thicker than a crust you are going to find at Bar Cento or Lolita, it really does have that great interplay between the crispy exterior of the edge of the pie (and the bottom of the pie, too) and that wonderfully soft chewy interior just below the crispy surface. And for not being baked in a traditional stone oven, the crispiness of the crust on the bottom is surprising, but certainly welcomed.

From the next photo, you can kind of see how the crust looks from the side:

Finally, a shot of what I walked away with since a medium is WAY more than one person could eat in a single meal:

I plan to warm up the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. While this is neither a NY style pie nor a Chicago style pie, I honestly think this is the pie I would prefer to have most often given the choice. But, I suppose I am biased since this is what I grew up eating.

I will also caution you to either go at an off-time or be prepared to wait. I went today (Sunday) at 4 pm and the place was half full. If you're thinking about going on a Friday or Saturday night for dinner, go before 5 pm or after about 8:30 pm or so. They also have a full bar and a patio for when the weather gets nice. And stick with the traditional stuff ... it's what they do best.


Randi said...

Well, I'm not a thick crust fan, but I'd take it anyday of "New Orleans" pizza. LOL

Tino said...

So would I. :)

Actually, I would take this pizza any day over any chain pizza. I consider it to be as good as, but in a different way than, Bar Cento and Lolita style pizzas.