Uncle Mario’s Brick Oven Pizza & an explanation of Grandma Pizza

When my little cousins, Ammaar and Suhayb, came to the city to visit with friends, Ammaar insisted we have Grandma Pizza on 50th and 9th. “It’s sooo good,” he kept saying of the place another cousin Sana (there are a lot of us) introduced him to–so we obliged. When we got to the intersection, I began looking all around for a sign that says “Grandma Pizza,” to no avail. I looked at Ammaar quizzically. “Are you sure we’re at the right place? All I see is some Uncle Mario’s place.” “Yeah, that’s it!”

Turns out “grandma pizza,” he FINALLY explained later, isn’t a place, it’s a type of pizza. Well, don’t I feel sheepish that my lil cousin had to explain this to a “food blogger” (I use that term very loosely though so whatevs). You live, you learn. Erica Marcus from Slice explains further: “Variations abound, but the basic outlines [of grandma pizza] are as follows: a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp. [Michele] Scicolone [Manhattan resident, Italian food expert, and co-author of Pizza: Any Way You Slice It] observed that grandma pie sounded a lot like “pizza alla casalinga” (housewife-style pizza), “the kind of pizzas you’d get in Italy if you were invited to someone‚Äôs home.”

Caprese pizza

Caprese pizza

Anyway, when we walked in, a slightly jumpy waitress seated us (seemed like she was the only waitress in the whole mid-sized pizzeria). “Are these tables OK? Ok bella, I love you.” And disappears. I looked at everyone at the table…”Did she just say she loves us?” Everyone heard the same thing. I’ll take it. Turns out the older waitress would be mumbling a lot of non-decipherable things throughout our meal. But not in an annoying way, it was sorta endearing. Maybe because I was so entertained by her, it was like she was a caricature to me.

We decided on two grandma pizzas: their Caprese (diced Roma tomato with fresh mozzarella and basil) and the Mac and Cheese just for fun. The pizza’s are big, 12 slicers and we had a moment of panic thinking that between the 6 of us, 24 slices would be impossible. But yeah…not after those first bites. The pizzas were delicious and flavorful without all the fussy dressings.

Mac n Cheese pizza

The Mac and Cheese is simply that — pizza topped with noodles. This one was slightly more bland since the noodles are just plain, unseasoned carbs, but add a little bit of salt (yes, salt) and hot pepper and it’s perfection (to me, anyway…what do I know?).

Mac n Cheese pizza

Oh and that waitress, came back carrying a new pitcher of water each time. By the end, we had three or four full pitchers. I kinda enjoyed her spazziness.


Meal: Not quite lunch, not quite dinner at 5pm
Occasion: Cousins and co. visiting NY!
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ** (just your regular pizzeria…maybe a little more space than some in the city)
Food: ***
Service: **
Would I go back?: Yesss

Restaurant Info:
Uncle Mario’s Brick Oven Pizza

739 9th Ave
(between 49th St & 50th St)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 459-1234
Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen


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