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Whatever it is that makes pizza great, Mario’s has got it

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Two slices of pepperoni (and a Cheerwine) at Mario’s on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro.

I went to Mario’s Pizza on Wendover Avenue a few weeks ago. My friend and I split four slices of pepperoni, on mem — I owed him from a bar tab he covered, or something like that. Regardless, after he shoveled the first bite into his mouth he garbled between chews, “Joey, this is what I’m talkin’ about. I know I say that a lot but sometimes that really is what I’m talking about.” Sometimes a nice greasy slice of pizza is all that a growing boy needs.

Last week I stopped into the same Mario’s again (there is also a location on New Garden) for lunch. Even during midafternoon the place was popping with people eager for — according to the readers of YES! Weekly in 2009 — the best pizza in the Triad. After wading through the line of pick-up customers I ordered two slices of pepperoni. They were ready by the time I got to the register. I ordered a medium drink as well which brought my total to $7.55; slightly steep, but as evidenced by the size of the slices in the photograph above, it’s well worth it.

If you aren’t in the mood for pizza, Mario’s still has you covered.

Their menu includes other Italian staples like stromboli and calzones (I highly recommend the spinach calzone), canoli and tiramisu, baked lasagna, manicotti and ravioli, and most notably veal, chicken or eggplant parmigiana. The veal and chicken parmigiana are also available as 8- and 12-inch sandwiches for $5.75 and $7.25 respectively. Mario’s also has both steak and chicken Philly sandwiches and a whole range of appetizers and salads; oh, and I almost forgot, they have beer and wine too.

Oversized slices of pizza are a staple of New York-style pizza joints, but most do not have a soda fountain with Cheerwine. I filled my paper cup with ice and one of North Carolina’s staple sodas and sat down in one of Mario’s multiple booths to dig into my slices. I doctored them up with loads of the crushed red pepper, oregano and garlic that is conveniently placed at each table surrounding the napkin dispenser that you will certainly utilize if you order pizza.

There is a certain, how do you say, je ne se qua that differentiates good pizza from just average or okay pizza. It might be a certain dough or the quality of the mozzarella or the crispness of the toppings or the level of grease — but whatever it is, Mario’s pizza has it.

The gargantuan slices effectively require folding, which allows some of the excess grease to dribble of the slice and onto the plate or down your chin.

Mario’s adds to the New York style motif with framed pictures on the wall of New York subway routes and a map of Italy. The television in the corner, however, was tuned to a hunting show (we are still in the South, I guess).

I tore through my slices and though I’m usually one to finish my crust, I am never able to at Marios, which is unfortunate because rather than being burnt and charred like at other pizza joints around town, Mario’s crust is soft, doughy and retains just a bit of sauce.

I disposed of my plate and put the pan on a pile of them on top of the trash bin. I refilled my cup of Cheerwine and as I made my way out the door, noticed several other booths of twenty-something guys like me, families and couples folding and digging into their own slices.

wanna go?

Mario’s Pizza 4215 W. Wendover Ave., Greensboro 632.0072

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