Friday, October 30, 2009
Mark's Pizzeria, Lyell Ave.
From their many area locations and frequent TV ads, we’re all familiar with Mark's Pizzeria. Mark’s started out in Palmyra in 1982, and today has grown to about 40 locations in Western and Central New York. Its 16 Monroe County locations make Mark’s among the biggest local/regional chains around Rochester, and about the biggest that I’ll review. (I have no interest in reviewing national chains, although I might do it for laughs sometime.)
One difficulty in reviewing chains is that you never know if the pizza you get at one location is going to be representative of what you’d find at the others. A place like Domino’s may be able to maintain uniformity throughout its stores, but ironically, smaller chains sometimes seem to have trouble with that. But I’m not about to check out 16 different Mark’s, so I just picked the one on Lyell Avenue more or less at random.
I got two cheese slices, part of a deal that gets you 2 slices and a 20 oz. drink for $6, although I should mention that the soft drinks cooler was nearly empty when I visited. The pizza slices were fairly greasy, and that is consistent with my memories of the handful of times I’ve eaten Mark’s pizza in my life. The undersides were browned and soft, and the slices were foldable, but floppy. The crust was on the thin side, but with a wide, thick, puffy lip along the edge. The lip was a little crisp and had a certain breadiness to it.
The sauce was pretty much a background player here, but had OK flavor, very middle of the road, neither especially sweet, acidic, or herbal. The thick layer of congealed, browned cheese was quite greasy, and a lot of that grease had soaked down to the underside, which was actually shiny with oil. (Not that I like my cheese really stringy, but it occurred to me that these slices didn’t much resemble the one they always show in Mark’s TV ads, with long strings of mozzarella as the slice is being lifted from a pie.)
Mark’s has some 20 pizza toppings to choose from, and several specialty pizzas, none of them especially exotic or bizarre. They also offer wings, salads, hot and cold subs, calzones, burgers and sides.
I wasn’t too impressed by this pizza, but it wasn’t all that bad either. It’s one that, to me, has the potential to be quite good, but on this visit at least, didn’t live up to that potential. The sauce had good flavor, and the outer lip showed some nice breadiness, but the soft, floppy, greasy crust and thick layer of browned, oily cheese brought it down. It’s the sort of pizza that might be satisfying if you’re really hungry or in the mood for a heavy, greasy slice, but for my money there are better choices elsewhere on this stretch of Lyell Ave. I’ll give Mark’s a C-.
Mark’s Pizzeria, 1074 Lyell Ave. @ Glide St. 458-2310
Sun. - Thu. 10:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10:30 a.m. - midnight
Pizza Guy note: this location of Mark's has now been replaced by Paradiso Pizza.