Pizza places in the county seem to be strictly divided. There are the corner joints that have been making the same New York-style slices for decades, and the new gourmet places with wood-burning ovens, funky toppings, and tattooed waiters, walls of tile and reclaimed wood, and industrial lighting. And then, there’s Mario’s in Chappaqua.
For 55 years it fell into the first category, and you’ll still find big triangles of cheese pizza; thin, square Grandma slices; and a round of puffy focaccia just kissed with oil and tomato sitting in the glass case of the no-frills space.
Earlier this year, however, Mario’s expanded into the polished restaurant space next door where they now serve a full menu of appetizers, salads, and entrées. Also newly installed: a wood-burning oven that owner Tony Veshta is using to bridge the gap between slice shop and gourmet pizzeria. What other slice shop can you think of that serves pies topped with burrata, Parmesan and black truffle?
Photo by Samantha Garbarini
Half Tony’s Special, half arugala
Veshta says experimenting with gourmet ingredients is something he’s always enjoyed. His namesake pie – the Tony’s Special – might be the best pizza on the menu. The crust is puffed and perfectly charred. It’s not super thin in the center, but a little sturdier to support creamy Gouda, threads of caramelized onions, a drizzle of honey, and curled slices of pancetta. It’s a seemingly perfect creamy, rich, sweet-and-salty balance. Another winner is the arugula pie, piled high with lightly dressed, peppery leaves, halved grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and prosciutto.
Nonetheless, Mario’s still seems to be a slice shop with families coming in to order slices from behind the counter. Hopefully, they’ll catch on soon to what else is on the menu.