While touring creepy places and chasing down the covered bridge tag last week, I stumbled across a roadside pizza place that caught my fancy. Generally I find state routes to be somewhat boring, but Ohio State Route 725 has just enough curves to keep me interested between Dayton and the Indiana border. Approaching Gratis I noticed a pickup pull out of a mom and pop stop, coincidentally called “Mamma Mac’s Pizza”. Racing the setting sun to land another moto tag I vowed to swing back around for a short taste.
In the interest of entertainment, I’m becoming more comfortable with the statement “Hi. I’ve never been here before. What’s good?” Dressed in my full gear and peeling off my neck gaiter, the nice lady behind the counter regretfully informed me that they were out of their famous pizza bread. Considering I was already rocking the loaded tail bag, that wasn’t an option anyway. I sprung for a small snack considering I had no storage available and still wanted to get home before the sun went down; Mamma Mac’s Cheesy breadsticks did not disappoint. As previously mentioned, I’m a pizza aficionado (if I don’t say so myself), and especially like cheesy bread. For Dayton folk, I’m a big fan of Marco’s Pizza’s cheesy bread, and you can’t go wrong with Cousin Vinny’s Big Ten and a Cheesy bread at O’drunk thirty. That behind said, in my opinion, the bar has been raised; of all the cheesy bread I’ve had, Mamma Mac’s is currently holding the championship trophy. The cheesy bread is thick and fluffy, with melted cheesy stretching arm to arm when you try to peel back a piece. The clincher; exactly the right amount of garlic mixed with the delicious cheese; phenomenal. For an added bonus I will also suggest getting the cheese dip instead of the marinara sauce (no extra charge); beware, the nacho cheese may overpower the unsuspecting. Appetite content and gorged with delicious cheese, I sped off into the sunset, sworn to bring my better half for lunch at the next available date.
Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long to sample more items on the menu. With my wonderful wife in tow, I returned on Saturday to compare Mamma Mac’s pizza pie. Without a doubt, this roadside establishment is “family owned and operated”. I’m pretty sure there were two folks on hand at my last visit, and I believe the poor gentleman waiting on us Saturday was hustling along by his lonesome. If you’re on a schedule, probably best to call ahead. Fortunately, I’m all about small business, and the wife and I had nowhere to be.
The menu is considerably lengthy considering the size of the business; making final decisions pretty tough. Knowing how good the cheesy bread was, there was no way I was letting Chrissy miss out. She’s normally a fan of “fully loaded” pizza, but to Mamma Mac’s credit, they’ve put a great signature on “Supreme” pizza; it’s not “Supreme” without banana peppers, and Bacon! Looking to spice things up some, Chrissy also threw in a Meatball Sub. If I hadn’t mentioned before, beyond pizza, I’m also a sandwich guy; breakfast, lunch, dinner, it’s all good. I assume it’s a military byproduct, convenience food, “eat & move”. Anyway, the menu from Mama Macs deserves credit for offering a list of sandwich options if you need to grab and go.
The Meatball Sub was solid; however this is definitely the wife’s department. I’m all about sandwiches, but I tend to prefer the cold cut, or club variety. To go along with that, I’m pretty spoiled, my father-in-law makes some killer meatballs. Sadly, all commercial establishments are fighting an uphill battle there. Still, can you really go wrong with Marinara, melted cheese and a liberal amount of meatballs? In this case, only when it comes to keeping the contents inside the hoagie. From a guy who wouldn’t order the meatball sub for himself, I’d have it again. The Meatballs were certainly above Subway standards, yet unsurprisingly, still fell short of the secret family recipe (I can’t fault them for that, everyone loves grandma’s cooking best).
Having no idea what to expect, I actually figured I’d be looking at sliced “pie” pizza based on the cheesy bread. To my surprise, Mama Mac’s is actually pie pizza cut into squares, or “Dayton Pizza” as some folks describe it (rumor is square pizza is “Midwestern”; I don’t know anything about that). While I prefer pie cut pizza (Chicago or New York Style if I can get it), I wasn’t about to complain about the generous amounts of sausage, bacon, and banana peppers laid out before me. We ordered the Supreme with regular crust, but I’m told thin crust is also available. Having had square pizza before, I have yet to establish the difference between regular or thin crust pizza from places like Ron’s & Marion’s. In this case, I suppose it’s like comparing Marion’s and Donato’s pizza for “who has the thinnest” crust. It’s square pizza… it’s always thin! At any rate, folks should probably be warned, I considered their regular crust to be somewhat “doughy” despite being thin. While I like doughy pizza (i.e. Digiorno), the wife definitely does not. For me, no complaints; toppings piled high and lightly “singed” under the pizza oven, I got what I paid for. For locals looking to stop by, I would probably put Mama Mac’s on par with Ron’s Pizza in Miamisburg; it’s also similar to Christy’s in Vandalia (but better). The “regular” crust is thicker than Ron’s, and the toppings are piled higher, more like Marion’s (mind you, I ordered supreme). $16 for a 12” pizza might be a be a bit steep for some ($10.50 for 1 topping), but with bacon piled high… it’s still cheaper than Marion’s. I probably wouldn’t go as far to describe the pizza as the artisan variety you’d find at Dewey’s, Hairless Hare, or Pies & Pints, but if you’re looking for a carry out on Friday night, or a place to stop after a long ride, it’s worth the taste. If nothing else, I will always know where the best cheesy bread is to be found; and I have yet to try the “Famous” pizza bread.