#197: Mary’s Pizza Shack

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This afternoon I was feeling hungry.  I had decided earlier in the day that I would do Mary’s Pizza Shack for dinner, so off I went.  Mary’s Pizza Shack is one of nearly 20 that are scattered around the north bay and northern CA.  I decided they were local enough to count.  Ours is located in the Nugget shopping center at Pleasant Grove and Fairway.  I had glanced over the pizzas side of the menu a little before heading out and had an idea of what I would order already.

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When I arrived at 5PM, right about on the dot, I walked over near the still-temporarily-closed Golden Dragon Buffet to take a photo of the exterior.  While I was doing so, someone inside had noticed me.  A minute later as I was heading towards the door I crossed paths with the owner, Carla, who asked what the photos were for.  About half the time when I get this question I say for fun, the other half I say for the blog.  Whatever I’m feeling at the time.  This time I said the blog to which she was very receptive.  After making a trip to her car she caught back up with me so she could get me seated herself and introduce me to the bartender, April.  She looked to be headed out but before leaving made sure to tell April and myself that my dinner was taken care of.  This was very generous.  I had always wondered if something like this would happen, especially after being on Good Day Sac and knowing there was a decent chance of being recognized.  Surprisingly though, this is the first time (with exception to the two breakfasts we had for Good Day).  Honestly it made me pretty nervous and concerned about how it would affect my writing.  I’ll get back to that later.

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I was seated at the end of the bar giving me a nice view of the entire place.  April got me going with a 22oz Lazy Daze Pilsner, one of the many beers that are brewed on site.  I was aware to a small extent that they brewed some beer here, based on their beverages menu, but I really didm’t expect it to be more than two or three.  Turns out they have a full on brewery set up which you can see through the windows in the bar photo.  The brewery itself is called Lazy Daze Brewery and they’ve got a little bit of everything.  I tasted the Dave’s Not Here Man double IPA, which was recommended by a customer sitting nearby.  I’m generally not one for hoppy beers at all, but this went down so smoothly I would seriously consider it.  At 10% it will pack a little punch too if you’re not paying attention.  I also tried the Irish Red Ale which was nice and malty with an almost velvety texture.  The pilsner was crisp, light and refreshing for this nice warm day and a big meal, just what I needed.

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The head of the kitchen, Anthony, came out to introduce himself and tell me a bit about how they do things.  Nearly everything they make in-house, and the small amount that they don’t is made per their own recipes by their vendors.  He recommended the Chicken Parmigiana (Chicken smothered in cheesy love. Breaded chicken breast topped with homemade marinara sauce and melted provolone cheese, served on a bed of
 fettuccine pasta with Alfredo sauce)[$15.50].  This had me questioning my pizza choice and he left me to study the menu and decide.  I think it was right about at this point that I started to realize that this wasn’t your average pizza joint and that the name is kind of deceiving.  It’s really closer to a proper Italian restaurant with a very casual atmosphere and a good-sized pizza selection.  The bar wasn’t something I had expected, nor the full table-service setting.  The pizza I was contemplating was a half Buffalo Chicken (The perfect combination: chicken tossed in a spicy Buffalo sauce topped with mozzarella cheese and fried onion strings. {Does not include pizza sauce.}) and half Pesto Chicken (Grilled pesto chicken, roasted tomatoes, and three kinds of cheese: mozzarella, provolone and a sprinkling of feta. {Does not include pizza sauce.}).  Prices for both of these pizza’s are: Bambino:$10.25, Small:$14.50, Medium:$18.50 and Large:$22.95.  The menu states that half-and-halves are priced slightly higher.  These are definitely on the higher end in Roseville.

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While I was deciding I received a basket of warm and toasty bread which was light and pretty tasty.  Finally, I ran my two choices by April to see which I should go with.  She had earlier agreed with Anthony that the Chicken Parmigiana was a very good option.  Despite that, she said that the two pizzas I had chosen were her favorites and encouraged me to go with them since I had being considering them before arriving, so I went ahead with the pizza and picked the small size.

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I wasn’t keeping very good track of time while I sat up at the bar, drinking my beer and listening to a few regulars chat with the staff, but I would venture a guess that the pizza took somewhere around 15 min to come out from the time I ordered it.  Up until I grabbed my first slice, as I said earlier, I was concerned about the integrity of this post.  Most of my worry was that it might not be very good and that I’d feel like a jerk for accepting a free meal and feel pressured to write about it in a nicer light than it deserved.  Once I took a bite however, all that concern faded away quickly.  This was an incredible pizza.  The crust was thin and crunchy, but also somewhat light throughout, less dense than most crusts.  It supported the weight of each slice on it’s own, just barely.  Coincidentally I had chosen two pizzas that didn’t have any pizza sauce.  Neither one seemed dry at all though.  The Pesto Chicken had a bit of pesto drizzled here and there.  The chicken was quite tender and moist itself and the roasted tomatoes had plenty of moisture in them, so no sauce really wash’t a big deal.  The flavor was intense.  Specifically, the pesto and fetta dominated, with the milder cheeses coming through at the end.  The Buffalo Chicken side was covered in fried red onion strings to the point where you couldn’t even see the cheese or chicken underneath.  I could absolutely taste them though.  The cheese was plentiful and stretched out half a foot before I used my fingers to break it off before things got out of hand.  The chicken, hiding under both the mozzarella and crispy onions, was very flavorful and had a nice heat from the rich buffalo sauce that, somehow,  did not overwhelm the other ingredients.

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I really dug both of these pizzas.  They just overtook Rosati’s for my favorite pizza in Roseville.  I love the hell out of Trademark Pizza and have been going back regularly, but they’re in a whole different category and I don’t feel like they compete for the same spot.  They are both top pizzas in my mind.  As for the service, obviously they treated me very well.  Watching the staff’s interactions with other customers however, I decided that the service I received wasn’t too far off from the norm.  I always had it in my mind that Mary’s Pizza Shack was going to be something along the lines of a Straw Hat Pizza.  I was very much proven wrong, and I’m glad I was.  For those that don’t make their way into the Nugget shopping center that often, like myself, you are missing out on this excellent restaurant hidden way back in the corner.

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2 thoughts on “#197: Mary’s Pizza Shack

  1. Definitely one of our top 3 pizza places…if it weren’t so pricey, or if we could find some coupons, we would eat there at least 1X a week – maybe twice!

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