Mark’s Pizzeria is probably the largest “local” chain in Upstate New York. The “Mark” is Mark Crane, who opened his first pizzeria in Palmyra in 1982. There are now 44 locations, generally clustered around Rochester, Syracuse, and the area between. Today’s review took place at the Shop City location, in the Eastwood area of Syracuse. At this location, there is no seating – this is a pickup and delivery site only.
I chose a pepperoni slice ($2.55 including tax), which was a 1/6th cut from a 16″ pizza. I asked about the age of the pizza and was told it had been in the holding case for about 30 minutes. I can’t call it a “warming” case, because it wasn’t particularly warm. No reheating was offered. I don’t know about all of the other locations, but this one uses a conveyor oven with a perforated pan to carry it through. The result is a dotted pattern on the bottom (solid pans can trap air, creating bubbles that lift the dough and prevent it from baking). Although it looks a little funny, this crust was generally evenly browned. A lot of oil soaked into the crust while it was in the holding case.
The rim of this piece was jagged and rather thick, lightly browned, soft, not crispy, and rather chewy. General crust taste was OK, with nothing unusual to note. However, away from the rim there was a problem.
Crust thickness in the main part was almost half an inch, but only the bottom half of that was actually baked. The area directly under the sauce and cheese was still moist and gummy. This problem can be caused by using cold sauce, but I have no way to know if that was the reason here.
The first few bites at the point of the slice had a good amount of sauce, but there was less and less as I got closer to the crust rim. It was bright red, very smooth textured, and moderately spiced with a somewhat overcooked and acidic quality. I’d call it a generally average sauce. The cheese was browned in spots, extremely oily, and very orange and chewy. Pepperoni was somewhat on the spicy side, and tasted OK, but there was very little of it.
Perhaps a freshly baked pizza would not have some of these problems, but I have to judge by what I was served, and if a pizza shop serves poor pizza slices, that’s what I have to report. I’m guessing that a fresh pie would have a little crisper, less leathery crust, but I’d expect the cheese to be just as oily and orange, and sitting in the holding cabinet didn’t cause the layer of unbaked, gooey dough. It was tolerable at first, but then there was less sauce as I progressed toward the rim, and I became aware of the gummy, unbaked dough described earlier. I lost my appetite and tossed out the rest.
In case you think I’m unfair to give a poor rating on one visit, I will tell you that this was my second visit; the first was pretty much the same, and I couldn’t finish that piece either. The Pizza Geek rates it 2 out of 5 slices.
Summary – Pros: it came in a nice box. Cons: super-soft & chewy, not fully baked, extremely orangey and oily, little sauce.
What do you think? Have you been to any of the Mark’s Pizzeria locations? Click the comment link below and tell us about it.