TLO Restaurant Review: Mazzio’s Pizza
9:54 AM EDT on March 20, 2018
Starting tonight, Oklahoma-based pizza chain Mazzio’s will begin offering all underpaid, overworked and underfed Oklahoma educators (with a current school ID, of course) a complimentary Tuesday evening “Endless Dinner Buffet” along with a free drink.
Press release-inducing corporate generosity aside, haven’t our public school teachers suffered enough?
While I’m sure any gracious instructor within earshot would glumly add that “every little bit helps,” Mazzio’s, in my experience, has always been everybody’s last and forgotten choice for pizza in Oklahoma. That is, unless, you're going just for the ranch dressing.
It's been years since I've been to a Mazzio's Pizza, and since I'm always down for third or fourth chances, I thought it would be fun to hit the location near 23rd and Penn to give teachers a preview of what they should expect. I started with the salad bar:
One of the more paltry smorgasboridan offerings in Oklahoma City, Mazzio’s so-called “Endless Dinner Buffet” ($8.00) is more of an exercise in all you don’t want to eat than anything else. Settling in for a hopeful dine-in session, with my steam-cleaned plate and suspiciously cloudy water cup in hand, the first thing I noticed as I reached for the iceberg lettuce on the salad bar was that it was soaking wet. Not “spritzed for added moisture” damp, but “wading in a pool of its own leafy makings” drenched.
Once I sorted the usable greens and practically towel dried them one by one, I was happy to learn the salad bar itself was generously stocked with all the standard Oklahoma requirements to pass our state’s Salad Aptitude Test: ham, cheese, cherry tomatoes, hardboiled eggs and at least five different dressings including Mazzio’s award-winning house ranch which is finally available in a take-home jug.
(There’s also plenty of potato salad if you just want to cut out the middle-man altogether and give a fat middle-finger to the USDA’s food pyramid.)
As far as the pizza itself goes, whether it be here or just about any other buffet in town, you really have to be scraping the bottom of the brick-oven to cause a customer to deeply sigh, reservedly shovel a limp slice onto the plate and heart-wrenchingly long for the caustic simplicity of a Totino’s Party Pizza, but amazingly, Mazzio’s flunks this mid-term with underachieving pride, barely earning D-minuses in both variety and presentation, with a big greasy F tacked on when it comes to taste.
With over six or seven different and continually picked-at pizzas keeping woefully congealed under the heat-lamp at any given time, the pie selection ranged from pepperoni to pepperoni to pepperoni to combination to pepperoni. But even that lack of choice would’ve been absolutely forgivable if they had even been made with the slightest sense of school spirit; Mazzio’s pizza and their wholly unlikable crust is tantamount to eating some cheese and tomato sauce on a dry saltine cracker. And they’re Best Value crackers at that, jack.
But, even apart from that hardtack crust that would’ve troubled the most repressive of maritime colonialists, the ‘za itself is remarkably mundane and manufactured, from the unfortunately canned tomato sauce to the increasingly salty sausage, I could only nosh about three or four slices until I called it quits. A man’s got to know his limitations and Mazzio’s, you helped me find mine.
Don’t worry about me though, as I eventually found caloric solace across the street at Pizza House, but that’s a story for another time. Do worry, however—worry very much—for the continually maligned teachers of Oklahoma and the uncertain and bleak Mad Max-like future they continue to face everyday, especially one that will unfortunately be fueled on sub-par eats and a fear of looking a broken-legged gift-horse in the mouth. ¡No cómpralo ya!
Their ranch was pretty bomb though, truth be told. Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler.