2342 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY
Web site: http://www.mariosrestarthurave.com/
On Arthur Avenue, I have my usual destinations — The Arthur Avenue Retail Market, Madonia Bakery, Borgatti’s fresh pasta, Roberto’s restaurant, and Full Moon Pizza. It’s a routine that I’ve been going through for about fifteen years or so. However, not once had I eaten at the legendary Mario’s restaurant — It always seemed too “old school” and a place that older people visited. But on my most recent Arthur Avenue excursion, during Good Friday, Rachel and I decided to give it a try — and it also helped that Mario’s has free parking for people who eat there, because all the public parking was totally taken up due to the Easter shopping craziness.
I had also heard rumors that Mario’s had amazing pizza — something that didn’t seem to fit with the Sopranos/Godfather white tablecloth Italian restaurant atmosphere. Thus I had to try it.
Mario’s really does look like something out of the Godfather. The waiters wear tuxedos and bowties, and the walls are adorned with Roman columns and paintings depicting Mediterranean scenes. The restaurant is one of the oldest Italian eateries in New York City, having been founded in 1919 as a Pizza restaurant. It has since greatly expanded, and while you can still get Pizza at Mario’s, it’s not something they advertise, and you can only get it during lunch hours. They primarily focus on fresh pasta and classic Italian-American food, which they happen to do very well.
Author Mario Puzo set a gangster’s dinner at Mario’s In the book “The Godfather”, but the owner refused to let him film there for the movie. Times have changed — scenes of the Sopranos have been shot here in recent years.
Traditional pastry cart service is a must here.
My cell phone photo doesn’t do this large Margherita pie justice. The sauce is just absolutely fantastic, which is tangy and savory from pancetta hocks that have been simmering in it. The crust has a few nice char spots on it, and is of the chewy type. The slices themselves are as thin as can be — I’d compare this pie favorably with places like Patsy’s in Harlem, even though its clearly coming out of a steel deck oven. Its a classic NY pizza.