Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mario's Italian Restaurant and Pizzaria

With an hour and half to kill in between a workout and a City Tournament basketball game I found time to sample a pie from the E. Clear Lake location of Mario's. I was happy to not have a wait at 6:30 on a Friday evening. It's nice to drive up to a good restaurant and walk right in and sit down.

Where they're located:
3073 E. Clear Lake Ave.
Springfield, IL

Call Em:

The Pizza:
Garlic Sausage and sliced pepperoncini

The crust: Thin

The Dish: Mario's is another local restaurant that has an excellent reputation of serving tasty pizza. You can get your pizza with a choice of different pizza sauces including Bianca sauce which is a buttery garlic sauce without a tomato base as well a white alfredo sauce. Being a somewhat of a traditionalist I went with the basic tomato pizza sauce and garlic sausage with pepperoncini. Mario's offers cheddar cheese as a topping too and I asked the waitress to have them sprinkle a little cheddar in with the mozzarella on my pie. My server was very accomodating with my order and brought over another server who had been with Mario's for a while to help describe the different sauce choices to me.

You can't go wrong with the atmosphere at Mario's. There are a lot of brown and red hues and slightly dim lighting which really remind of some of my favorite spots in St. Louis on "The Hill" like Bartolino's old location on Hampton Ave. Mario's is perfect for a romantic evening of pasta and wine or a family evening of pizza and soda-pop as they have multiple dining areas to seat customers.

After getting my order made I enjoyed an appetizer of a cold Bud Lite while waiting for my pie to bake.

How'd it eat: There are a lot of good things about Mario's pizza. The toppings where fresh and numerous, the sauce was flavorful but not overpowering, the crust was crispy and evenly baked. There was definitely a balance to this pie. The toppings of garlic sausage and sliced pepperoncini were spread out well around the pizza and really mixed well. The garlic sausage is a great pizza topping and will adorn any future pies I order from Mario's. The pepperoncinis had a hot kick that followed the garlic flavor well.
I thought I tasted a hint of basil in the sauce but it wasn't so much as to affect the flavors of the toppings and crust.

There's always somehting to be said about crust because crust is an easy thing to mess up. The fllavor of Mario's crust was just okk, there was nothing really special about it. The thing I really liked about this crust was that it was so uniformly baked. Usually with pizza crust whether it be tick or thin crust, the level of crispiness is always greater the closer you get to the edge of the pie. Meaning the pieces on the outside edges of the pizza are always crispier than the pieces in the centers. (Assuming you have a square cut pie.) Mario's crust was even from center to edges which I think is pretty hard to do because I rarely see it. There wasn't wone part of tis pizza with a flimsy or soggy crust. Goooood stuff.

You want to sit down and have a solid pie and good environment to enjoy it in? Eat at Mario's.

SPP Ranking: 7.9

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