Mountain View Voice

Eating Out - July 22, 2011

Heart-warming, home-style Italian

Mario's Pizza and Italian Restaurant is worth venturing beyond downtown

by Alissa Stallings

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. Across the tracks from downtown, I've discovered just the place. And you can bring the kids.

Mario's Pizza and Italian Restaurant was opened in 1964, and is still in the family. The grandson, Ronnie Facciolla, took over from his parents, and his grandmother still works a few nights a week. "She has a devoted following" he told me. "There are customers who call ahead and won't come in if she's not here."

Who wouldn't want to be doted on by Grandma?

When I first walk in, I note the sunny yellow walls, black-and-white checkered tablecloths, and vintage posters on the walls. Ronnie walks me through the menu, asking me how I feel about garlic. I get the sense he gets asked about this a lot. He points out which dishes are spicy, tells me the pomodoro ($12.95) has a light, fresh feel, and that the most popular dishes on the menu are always the lasagna ($14.95), chicken parmigiana ($16.95), and chicken marsala ($16.95).

I decide on the linguine with pesto ($14.95). Ronnie reappears in moments with the complimentary garlic bread. It's actually their pizza crust rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with cheese. Their pizza crust recipe hasn't changed since his grandparents opened Mario's, and it's popular. I munch on the crust, somewhere between thin and medium, with pleasant chewiness, and my complimentary soup appears: white bean and vegetable. My bowl is filled with white beans in a savory broth and I'm dipping and slurping when my giant plate of pasta arrives.

My linguine is fresh and the sauce is a verdant bright green that verges on creamy with hints of garlic. I eat for a solid 15 minutes and hardly make a dent in the generous portion. Between the garlic bread, soup, and pasta, I am stuffed. Rounding out the meal is a little slice of sheet cake. Nothing fancy, just a small thank-you for dining with the family.

Meanwhile, Ronnie and the other servers have been filling pizza delivery orders, and I watched a man eagerly demolish an order of garlic bread while he waited patiently for take-out lasagna. Ronnie also explains the finer points of breading fish (including finding the right temperature for the olive oil and the importance of using fresh bread crumbs) to an elderly couple finishing their meal.

Throughout the meal, my drink is refilled, the waitresses smile, and they offer to box up my meal when I'm done. A slice of lemon for my water? More bread? I almost feel like I'm at the spa instead of eating by myself.

I also ordered a pizza for take-out ($10.95). The crust was chewy, the sauce not too sweet or spicy, with plenty of cheese and generous toppings. They also offered me soup or salad with my pizza, just like a regular entree. I found the size of the personal pizza to be good-sized, just like everything else I ordered, and their varied menu, complimentary appetizers and desserts make them a great place to bring the family or a large group.

The only drawback to Mario's is the hours. It's not open for dinner, except on Thursday and Friday nights, and closed on the weekends. Ronnie explained that they often cater for local companies, including NASA, Symantec, and Lockheed, and that takes up their time on the weekends and many evenings.

But if you are downtown for lunch and can't decide where to go, keep heading down Castro, and make a right on Leong Drive. You'll be glad you did.

Mario's Pizza & Italian Restaurant

861 Leong Drive

Mountain View, CA 94043

(650) 988-0400

www.mariositaliano.com

Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Dinner: Thursday-Friday 5 p.m.-9 p.m.,

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields