In Saturdays bluster, I drove into Cloverdale to hunt for the elusive taco truck, but no luck this time. Instead I sought refuge in Marys Pizza Shack for a late lunch. This is the 15th location of this local chain, open about a year.
One of the nice things about Marys is the use of local products. The warm bread is the familiar lightly crackly sourdough from Franco-American, the foil-wrapped butter comes from Clover-Stornetta, and Bear Republic unfiltered Hefeweizen is on tap. I tried a pint, $3.25, and it was a somewhat darker in color and more flavorful than others of this type that Ive had before (but Im no expert), and quite refreshing with added lemon slices.
I had the lunch size spaghetti and meatball, which comes with a small house salad (or soup), $7.95. Unlike the soggy Caesar salad at the Napa restaurant (link below), this salad was ultra-fresh. The knife-cut iceberg lettuce was the crispest and best Ive had in a restaurant in a long time. The shreds of mozzarella grated over the top were loosely draped and moist. Not clumped together or dried out, the cheese had obviously been grated to order onto this plate. The slices of fresh button mushrooms were snowy white and not dry either. I thought they might have been treated with preservatives, but by the time I was done with lunch, the few pieces left on my plate had oxidized and browned, so these were freshly cut too. Red onion slices, garbanzos, pickled beet slice, salami, dill pickles, shredded carrots, sliced hard-cooked egg, and kidney beans rounded out the salad.
The spaghetti was al dente, and the sauce was the same as ever. While the cardboardy clumps of ground beef dont add much, the unthickened and not artificially sweetened tomato sauce has a fresh-cooked homemade taste. The single giant meatball is the fluffy, loosely compacted, light style. Not fancy food, but comforting, satisfying and prepared with care, and even for a lunch portion, enough leftover to take home.
The dining area in Cloverdale is laid out in a U-shape around the central kitchen. A childrens birthday party was in progress on one side. I was seated in a booth far away, where founder Mary Fazios picture smiled down on me, but it was still pretty noisy at times. Yet, I didnt mind. The sound of little kids singing and laughing added to the family-oriented atmosphere. Im glad that there are still places where children can enjoy wholesome food. Im sure this would make Mary happy too.
Marys Pizza Shack
1143 South Cloverdale Blvd.
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