Saturday, January 30, 2010
Marion's Piazza, Englewood
Today we visited Marion's Piazza in Englewood, mostly because it had been about 4 years since my cousin had eaten there, and he had a craving for their pizza. We had just finished "unfinishing" a basement by removing the remaining wall studs and insulation, and had worked up an appetite. As we entered, I realized that I had actually eaten at this location before, with my sister back in the mid 1990's. As I recall, at the time I thought the pizza was pretty good, kind of expensive, and I was enthralled by some sort of holographic/3D video game they had.
This time around, we were at first simply happy for the warmth from the ovens as we entered and escaped the blustery arctic cold air. I noticed a sign on the way in that is worth mentioning - "no checks or credit cards" - in other words, this place is cash only. (but there is an ATM near the back of the place) Afterwards, we sat down to take a look at the menu, and decide exactly what to order. The menu is a single page affair, with the items & prices on one side, then locations & contact info on the other. It is divided into five sections: pizzas, salads, giant sandwiches, deli sandwiches, and pasta. It didn't take us too long to settle on a 13" pepperoni & mushroom pizza, a couple of orders of garlic bread, a meatball sandwich (sub), and Reuben sandwich. Later, when the order was ready, we also added a pitcher of root beer. Total price for everything: about $33 to feed a party of 3. One oddity that I noticed was that this is probably one of the only places I've seen that has both Coke and Pepsi available - normally you get either/or when it comes to the kings of pop. I like having a choice.
While they were preparing the order, I browsed around the restaurant. The center portion of the restaurant was well lit naturally with some interesting skylights. The walls on the west side had recessed painted murals. Out by the entrance, there is a room with one of the few surviving arcades in the area, so if you have young ones, or are young at heart, you may be in for a treat with some game time. However, I felt the most interesting feature was the "celebrity wall".
The celebrity wall has photos of various movie & TV stars. Many of these are autographed, and the majority actually show the folks either eating or seated in the restaurant. There were probably 40 or 50 of the photos, but I felt some of the more notable ones were as follows; Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati), Tony Randall (The Odd Couple), Rosemary Clooney (singer), Barbara Eden (I dream of Jeannie), Vincent Price (numerous horror films), Bill Bixby (Incredible Hulk, My Favorite Martian), Mclean Stevenson (MASH), Dom Deluise (comedian, 25+ movies), Jim Nabors (Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle), Barry Williams (Brady Bunch), among many others. How does a Dayton, Ohio restaurant attract so many celebrities? Well, it turns out that back from the late 1950's through the 1970's, (& even as late as 1995) a theater group called the "Kenley Players" worked hard to get various TV & movie stars to appear in local stage productions around Ohio, mostly during the summers. They held their cast parties at Marion's Piazza, and thus the local connection. As part of this research, I found that Marion's was founded in 1965, and thus has been around for 45 years.
OK, back to the actual food. Within about 10 minutes, our order was ready. The pizza itself was very flavorful, thin crust, and crunchy. I also noticed that it was cut into very small squares, which would be quite kid friendly. The 3 of us eating ended up giving it a rating of 8.3 out of 10. Garlic bread was not quite as crunchy as I expected, but had a fine buttery garlic taste. Meatball sub had a lot of sauce, and plenty of meat, with the meatballs being very mild flavored. The Reuben was quite light, not heavily sauced or greasy, with more meat than I expected.
All in all, I'd have to say the place has some pretty decent pizza, a pleasant atmosphere and great history. Expect to spend a bit over $10 a person if you have an appetite. There are only 2 improvements I can really suggest. First, I'd like to have an explanatory plaque added to the celebrity wall, giving some details - so people don't have to look all of this up online. Second, the website is basic to the extreme - saying "coming soon" since 2006. It would be well worth it to put up a nice website with some detailed company history, online coupons, that sort of thing.
Update: Just found a nice coupon that I'm sharing. Good for 25% off any pizzas, but not valid Friday or Saturday. Good through February 28. Just print & take with you.
Marion's Piazza 404 West National Road, Englewood (7 total area locations)