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Friday, July 1, 2016

John and Mary's, Batavia

A few weeks ago I was in the Batavia area, so I stopped in to John and Mary's for a slice. I've seen the name before, but knew little of the history or the details of this place, which has several Buffalo-area locations.
The Batavia location apparently opened in 2014, but according to one site, John and Mary's traces its origins back to a hot dog stand opened in 1952 by John and Mary Guida. I don't see any connection to the Rochester-area Guida's pizzeria chain, and my pepperoni slice was dissimilar from the pizza I've had from Guida's.
This slice, which I had rewarmed in the oven, was on the thick side. From the appearance of the underside, which was a spotty mix of golden-brown and paler areas, it looked to have been baked in a pan. It was faintly oily to the touch, which also suggests the use of a pan.
The bottom surface wasn't overly oily (although it did leave a sizable oil mark in the box, so maybe the box had absorbed some of the oil), but it was more crunchy than crisp. When dough is baked directly on a hot oven deck or pizza stone, it tends to get crackly crisp. On an oiled pan, it tends to develop more of a crunch, especially where the dough is in directly contact with the pan.
On top, the mozzarella cheese was nicely melted. It was generously added, in good balance with the thick crust. I liked its smooth, stringy-stretchy texture, though it didn't add much flavor. A bit of Provolone or Romano would've been a welcome addition.
The sauce wasn't skimpy, but it was a relatively minor player. Some of it had been absorbed into the top of the crust. What remained seemed to be a pretty straightforward, slightly sweet tomato sauce, but honestly I couldn't much taste it. The wide slices of pepperoni were good and crisp, and added a nice flavor punch.
Turning to the menu (available on their Facebook page), John and Mary's ten specialty pizzas incorporate toppings that aren't among the nine a la carte toppings. The Hawaiian pizza, for example, includes ham, but ham is not listed among the extra toppings that you can request on a basic cheese pizza. I'm not sure how they would handle it if you asked. Hopefully it wouldn't turn out like the diner scene in the Jack Nicholson classic Five Easy Pieces.
Aside from pizza, J&M does wings, burgers, salads, tacos and fried seafood. They also offer "subs" and "hoagies." The main distinction appears to be that "subs" include lettuce, tomato, cheese and dressing, while "hoagies" do not, although they may include other items. So for instance a steak sub comes with lettuce, tomato, etc., while a steak hoagie comes with cheese, fried onions and sweet peppers. (Just read the menu.) There are daily specials, and they deliver all day, every day.
My pizza slice was reasonably good. The crust was OK, although I confess I tend to prefer the crackly, toasty, slightly charred variety over the golden brown, pan-baked type. But plenty of places do it like this, so presumably many people like it this way.
That aside, the cheese was good, the pepperoni was crisp and flavorful, and the components were well balanced. It was a solid, if unspectacular, example of WNY pizza. I'd give it a C.

John & Mary's Restaurant, 3711 W. Main St. Rd., Batavia
(585) 343-2101
Sat. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

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