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Maria's Pizza

Maria's PizzaIn a word: Small town pizza for those nearby.

The specs: #0367
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Maria's Pizza on Urbanspoon

JM and Nichole ate the 12" Hawaiian pizza and garlic bread with sodas.
The bill was $19, or $9.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Maria's Pizza a B-; Nichole gave Maria's Pizza a C (see our grading rubric).

Latest Maria's news and reviews

Maria's Pizza feels like a church basement fundraiser, in the most pleasant way possible. The tiny space is set up for families, of which there were many on this Thursday night. Though the place was packed to the gills, the paneled walls, heavy floral drapes, and worn vinyl checkered tablecloths absorbed the sound. The voices melded into a pleasant background chatter. Had the jukebox immediately behind JM's head been turned on, things might have been different. The jukebox held actual CDs, but even more old school, Maria's has a rotary phone and an ancient cash register, bell and all. How 1.0!

We were seated and our drinks order was taken fast, despite the crowd. Our spot by the only window let us observe the steady stream of takeout customers that braved the street construction mess for their carryout pies.  We even saw a family who, having reached the door, seemed to decide that the crowd was too big - so we felt lucky to get a seat.

Garlic cheese breadOur server dropped off our sodas (with bendy straws!) and, while she was quick and friendly, she didn't offer much by way of advice, saying "everything is good." So, we settled on the Hawaiian pizza and a starter of cheesy garlic bread. The pasta and sandwiches on offer didn't grab us, and besides, it felt wrong to not get pizza at Maria's Pizza.

The cheesy garlic bread turned out to be simple and great: a homemade sub roll with mozzarella and garlic butter and/or powder that disappeared fast. In Nichole's hindsight it was better than the pizza.

Hawaiian

Something about the combination of ingredients on the pizza made JM think they were trying too hard (as in: just one more ingredient and this pizza will be saved!). It was an odd combination of canned pineapple and mushrooms with what seemed like fresh-roasted green peppers, plus tinny-tasting, nearly raw white onion. The lack of notes about the ham probably doesn't bode well for its noteworthiness.

The pizza sauce was plain, with nary a spice to be detected, but a token dusting of jagged oregano leaves over the toppings might have been a try at making up for it. This stuff made undoctored Hunt's look spicy. The cheese was very stringy and flavorful, yet the medium-thick crust also lacked flavor and was underdone. While JM happens to like this crust style, he admits it's not objectively very good.

Oregon's clearly got a place in its heart for this classic pizza parlor and if they had Hogan's Alley as a stand-up arcade machine JM might agree more. But we wonder if Maria's popularity is due more to the lack of options or the pull of nostalgia than the quality of food. While we didn't find anything on this visit that will bring us back soon, Maria's does have its fans further afield.

Comments

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Why would you order a pizza with pineapple in Oregon, Wisconsin? It couldn't be anything but canned. The canned onions are unacceptable though.

My test for pizza is plain cheese. Flavorful crust (thin), tasty sauce (not too much) and just enough stringy cheese. That's all you need.

Yeah, Timmy, we ain't neer seen no fresh pine-apple round these parts. Whadda they look like, one-a them buhnanners I heard tell of in the city?

I have never been there, but from reading your article I get the impression that they were just TOO busy to make/cook it properly. Also, where can you get CANNED diced onions, never heard of them before???

She didn't say "canned onions," she said "tinny-tasting onions." As in metallic. As in cheap, probably low-grade or harvested at a bad time.

Look at me, saying "she" like it isn't a collaborative effort. Sorry, JM.

"Whadda they look like, one-a them buhnanners I heard tell of in the city?"

Kyle, why do you have to freak out every time somebody points out that the middle of Wisconsin is not the most well connected culinary spot in the country?

Yes, it would be unusual to find a small town pizza place using fresh pineapple because it's relatively expensive here. Yes, the southwestern food in the southwest is likely better than that in Madison because it originated there. Yes, there is a degree of freshness lost in importing seafood to the heartland because it has to sit on ice for at least a half day. These are simple observations, not attacks on you and your homeland.

Ease up. I know you're a friend of our host's so I'm not trying to tell you how to act, but it gets a little old. It also comes off as a major inferiority complex.

Anyone can get anything anywhere. That's pretty damn awesome. It's a small world.

Quibbling about the minor details by pointing out the obvious -- or the unchangeable -- as an indictment, is pointless. Maryland's closer to the ocean, so yes, their seafood will be fresher. That doesn't mean it's impossible to find fresh seafood in Omaha. It just means it'll cost more. Not like Omaha could do anything about it anyway. It's not relocating. So what's the point in highlighting that different places are (get this!) in different places?

Good, fresh, whole pineapple is less than $4 a fruit, for a pretty large one at that. It could easily top four pizzas. Small price to pay, and not insurmountable due to being in Madison (or Oregon), Wisconsin.

You single out my line as being silly? "It couldn't be anything but canned." That's a complex. Me, I'd rather talk about stuff that matters. Calling out Oregon for being Oregon is just picayune.

I'm from a small town and we never even heard of pineapple until we went to New York City. Kyle's snarky comments are part of the appeal of the site. He's the Don Rickles of Madison foodie talk. I bought a can of pre-sliced sliced onions. Delicious.

Hawaiian pizza...at least here in Oahu...consists of sauce, cheese, ham and pineapple (and though it may sound blasphemous, even here in Hawaii it is usually the canned variety...the sugar caramelizes better than that of fresh pineapple). Why dirty up a good thing with additional toppings? And Hawaiian pizza isn't even a Hawaiian invention, so who really cares if it is ordered in the middle of Wisconsin!

Ok, I have to stick up for Maria's. I have visited this place with some of my close Friends from Oregon who hold a special place in their heart for their Pepperoni and Green Olive pizza. While I don't particularly like the saltiness of the pizza I always opt for the lasagna!! WHICH IS SOOO GOOD! Cheese bread and lasagna is the perfect combo. I always ask for extra sauce because it's delicious. I've been told all the sauce is homemade from tomatoes the owner grows in their garden, and I really appreciate the a restaurant that still takes the time to prepare food like this. I suggest trying the lasagna!

You want good pizza, you go to Wells Bros. in Racine or any of the pizzarias in the Pizza Belt (our east coast, from Chicago to Milwauke, along the lake, where early Italians laundered their mafia money into pizzarias years ago...seriously, it is very true). Anyway, as an Oregonite, I've tried Maria's numerous times and your review is right on, even if I agree with the other commenters questioning your choice of tuty-fruity pizza! Maria's just lacks that something, that flavor. Not cheap either. I'd take Buck's or Rosati's in Madison any day over Maria's.

Unfortunately you guys missed the often overlooked (but in my opinion best) entree at Maria's : The lasagna. The noodles are perfectly baked with a savory, balanced sauce with fresh mozzarella, and if you get it for takeout it comes with a side of bread (for dipping in the huge amount of sauce that comes on the lasagna) and a packet of parmesan cheese. Salty and delicious!

you definitely have a one sided opinion of this pizza because you had the hawaiian! This place is not known for its specialty pizzas, it's THE BEST because of the basic pepperonis and natural sausage. all that other stuff on the pizza is just tainting the delicious combo of seasoned sauce and cheese that make it a favorite of many in the area. how do you think they stay in buziness with pizza hut and pit in town?

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