Uncle Mario’s Mac and Cheese Slice is (Kind Of) a Winner
Late last year, Uncle Mario’s Brick Oven Pizza (9th ave btw. 49+50th) opened to little fanfare and Yelp reviews ranging from overly enthusiastic to apathetic all the way to contemptuous. What else would you expect from a slightly gussied up version of a generic pizzeria like Abitino’s, the local chain owned by the same people? None of this made me eager to try it, but when I walked by and spied a macaroni and cheese pie, I felt compelled to investigate Uncle Mario’s world for myself. Here we go!
The first thing you should know about Uncle Mario’s Brick Oven Pizza is that they don’t really have brick ovens. Sure, they have “brick” ovens (ovens made of brick), but that appears to just be a facade for a regular oven. The wood or coal burning ovens and the thin, crunchy crusts that Mario’s name implies are nowhere to be found. Demerits for misleading customers with completely unnecessary word games. I didn’t come to inspect ovens though. I came for pizza topped with macaroni and cheese, and that’s exactly what I got.
The pasta-on-pie idea is nothing new, but I can’t recall seeing mac and cheese specifically, and it’s pretty awesome. Elegant in its simplicity, a thin and sturdy pie (more doughy than crunchy, although the bottom was nicely charred) is topped with one of the world’s greatest comfort foods. And to Mario’s credit, my slice was heated perfectly (I find a lot of places that reheat slices do it for too long or not long enough). Despite the dense pasta, the center wasn’t cold at all and the layer of mozzarella between the dough and the elbow was melted to stringy perfection. This slice is an undiluted overload of carbs and cheese for sure, but it’s moderately sized and filling without being a complete gutbomb.
I decided to try something a little simpler as well, opting for their “grandma” slice. It’s described as a “thin crust square pie topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce on a garlic bread crust.” I don’t want to reopen a debate about what exactly constitutes a grandma slice, but the only thing there that really says “grandma” to me is the fact that it’s square, which many of their pies are. And I didn’t notice anything different about the crust. Semantics aside, it was an extremely standard slice of pizza, with some very salty cheese. I’m fairly certain fresh mozzarella wasn’t the only thing there, and whatever fresh cheese may have been added was robbed of its “freshness” through the cooking process. The sauce was rich, sweet, and cloying- the way I find most overly sweet sauces. I actually kind of liked it, but it’s definitely not ideal. All in all, I didn’t particularly dislike this “grandma slice, but it will likely turn off purists. And people just looking for something simple can get much cheaper slices that will still give you that cheese and carb fix (I’d recommend 2 Bros.).
The two slices together came to $7.45. I’m not sure, but I think they were both $3.50 before tax, which would make the mac and cheese slice a way better value. Either way, I was pretty full and reasonably satisfied.
I hold generic pizza places like this in very low esteem (much like the generic delis this site was designed to offer alternatives to). Their bank of prepared pies, sitting there at room temperature just waiting to be reheated, bores and depresses me. I adjust my expectations at a place like this. I’m not looking for great pizza, I’m just looking for something that tastes good. The mac and cheese slice definitely satisfied on that front, and I would consider trying some of their other more experimental options (like the pulled pork or puttanesca pies on their menu), but if you’re just looking for a slice, the quality and value at Uncle Mario’s don’t really stand out.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Their mac and cheese pie is just what it sounds like, and it tastes really good
- As far as generic pizza places in Midtown go, it’s pretty good
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It’s basically the same mediocre pizza you can get anywhere
- The names of the restaurant and some of the pizzas are misleading
- The prices aren’t great
Uncle Mario’s Brick Oven Pizza, 739 9th Ave. (btw. 49+50th), 212-459-1234