By MADDY VITALE
Some things in life are too good to change, too good to be altered, best just to stay the same.
That is the case with Mario’s Pizzeria. It is under new ownership by Mary and Jonathan Baltz, of Upper Township, and Mary’s father, Michael Sannuti, of Ocean City. But it continues with the same old traditions.
Mary has a wealth of experience in the restaurant business. She has worked at Mario’s since she was 15. Now 30, she has spent years learning from the former owners what it takes to create and grow a successful business.
Brothers Ernesto and Joe Cannuscio sold the business to Mary, Jonathan and Sannuti this June.
“People in Ocean City don’t like change. We love the longtime customers and want them to know that,” Mary said. “Everyone in Ocean City has been very supportive of us with all that is going on.”
“They love the old owners. We want them to know that all of the same staff is here,” Mary added. “Ernesto still works here, too.”
Other than some updates, a splash of new paint on the exterior and some additions to the menu, the family is pleased to continue to offer the same great food and service that vacationers and residents in Ocean City have come to love through the years from the restaurant.
Located at the corner of 15th Street and Bay Avenue, Mario’s Pizzeria has been a popular fixture that has kept patrons coming back since it opened in 1977.
“A lot of people who I served when I was 16 still come to Mario’s,” Mary said.
“Vacationers even come in every year. They make it a tradition,” added Jonathan Baltz, who grew up and went to school in Ocean City.
Customers have an array of specialty pies and fresh toppings to choose from, and an assortment of salads and appetizers.
Delicious tomato pies, the tasty margherita pizza to a Sicilian pie that is something to feast on, it is a pizza-lover’s paradise. Homemade minestrone soup and rice pudding are also staples for the loyal customers.
Jonathan described the margherita pizza, “It’s amazing.”
And for those who relish the entrees, they won’t go away hungry after sampling the eggplant rollatini or chicken parm and even Mike Sannuti’s homemade meatballs.
The menu, which is reasonably priced, is packed. There is even an extensive vegan menu with an assortment of plant-based entrees to choose from. The menu was created by Ernesto Cannuscio before the sale of Mario’s, and Mary and her family continue the popular vegan addition.
Like at other restaurants, the COVID-19 pandemic has closed the inside dining service. But Mario’s remained open and expanded the outdoor dining. In addition, delivery and curbside pickup have kept the owners very busy. They are in the process of revamping the website so that customers could do online ordering, which will be offered soon, Mary pointed out.
“We have it down to a science. People drive up and give their number and we run out their orders,” Mary noted.
Mary said that the community has been very supportive of the restaurant, especially during the pandemic, when some people suggested it might not be the best time to buy a restaurant.
But Mary, Jonathan and Michael knew otherwise.
“We worked it out,” Mary said. “My dad was a big part of helping us and the customers have been so supportive and happy we are still the same Mario’s.”
Mario’s is open Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and on Sundays at 3:30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 398-0490 or visit Mario’s on Facebook.