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Latest venue reviews
Mario's is brilliant. My girlfriend and I go there every week or two and the food is ace. It's also very reasonably priced.
Patrick (Unverified), 04/07/11
The best pizza by far in Oxford. Love it!
garry (Unverified), 19/01/11
It is a really nice place if you want to have authentic Italian pizza. We had a take away and the service was quick. The pizzas were amazingly tasty, of good size and light as well. Would highly recommend the nice cozy place for a perfect pizza.
authentic pizza lover (Unverified), 17/03/10
As someone who is used to being disappointed by Italian restaurants outside of Italy, Mario's is a nice surprise. The food is really good and I was pleased they were able to leave onion out of my pasta dish (I'm allergic); so freshly made food to order. Service a little slow, but they were getting busy even on a Monday night, and as the food is so good I'll forgive them. Will go back and definitely recommend.
jgp (DI User), 21/10/09
We got a takeaway from here a couple of nights ago. We had a decadently rich and fragrant lasagna, a Pizza Firenze (tomato, mozzarella, spinach, garlic, olives, egg, parmesan) with a crispy light base and a topping rich without being greasy, and Fettuccine alla Romana (tender yet biteable egg-rich pasta with ham, peas, cream and garlic). We got the three dishes between the three of us and had a bit of each each. It was great. It's not the most intensely exciting haute cuisine, but it's wholesome, delicious and at around £6.50 per dish it's one of the best value take aways on the Cowley Road. We'll definitely be using them again!
LovePuppet (DI User), 24/08/09
I really love Mario's. I've been coming for every birthday, anniversary, and random night out at a restaurant for the last 3 years, and I have never once had anything other than fantastic food, excellent service, and a brilliant atmosphere.
I love that Mario's doesn't pretend to be anything it's not - ok, so the decor might not be to everone's taste, and the tables are a bit cramped, but this just adds to the atmosphere! The food is always excellent, and the service is always friendly and timely.
twinkletoes (Unverified), 30/03/09
Un posto piu figo ad Oxford non c'e... la...si mangia davvero bene... e un ristorante da visitare....10/10
[According to Google Translate, this means: More a place to cool Oxford there ... ... you eat the really good ... and a restaurant worth visiting... 10/10. We might suggest "There is no cooler place in Oxford... you eat really well there... and a restaurant worth visiting... 10/10]
FORZAJUVE (Unverified), 01/03/09
The Best Pizza in Oxford!
This was the fifth time I've been here, what can I say, every time I come here for a pizza, I am even more impressed, Always perfect pizza with authentic Italian toppings, which are very fresh and just amazing. Service is always good and pretty fast, and the food is very well priced, I mean me and my girlfriend went here last night and had: 2 drinks, 2 starters and 2 large main courses, which only came to £25... Bargain I'd say.
Definitely recommended, and will be back again soon :)
J (Unverified), 31/01/09
Marios e il posto piu figo che c'e ad Oxford. La- si mangia davvero bene, lo dico dal mio cuore. Prezzi bassi..pizze buone...e si puo parlare del calcio italiano coi ragazzi chi sono propri simpatici....10/10
Transl. from Google Translate:
Marios is the most cool place that's in Oxford. I eat really well, I say from my heart. Low prices .. good pizza ... and we can speak of Italian football with guys who support them too....10/10
virtussino-danilovic (Unverified), 16/01/09
A fixture on the Cowley Road for as long as anyone can remember, Mario’s may have lost a Mario from its original name, but has lost none of its cheerful atmosphere. The interior hasn’t changed either; it is uncomplicated and well-used with formica floors, wood panelling and no tablecloths. On a Thursday night the place was packed with small groups of diners of all ages. There was also a steady stream of what looked like regulars popping for a takeaway pizza and a chat with the waiters, who all appear to be genuinely Italian but who speak good English.
Not unlike the staff, the food consisted of authentic Italian dishes in a style slightly modified to be more accessible to the British palate. The pizza bases, although freshly thrown in front of our eyes, were a little thicker and less crisp than I would have preferred, the dessert menu was very limited, and the coffee tasted burnt and lacked the fragrant bitter richness of proper espresso, but these gripes were the only ones we had.
Our starters were Bresaola and Antipasti Misto – both were good, with a very acceptable quantity of meat. The vibrant, aromatic Bresaola was well-supported by fresh-tasting rocket and chunks (not shavings) of decent parmesan. My companion declared it a very well-thought-out dish, with flavourful tomatoes and everything at room temperature. My Antipasti Misto was satisfyingly varied, including a flavourful hard cheese as well as mozzarella. Reports from friends indicate that the ‘Italian Flag’, consisting of avocado, tomato and mozzarella, would also be a good choice as starter, especially for the hungrier type.
We didn’t have to wait long after this for our mains – a ‘Pizza Mario’ and a lasagne. The pizza was large, interestingly shaped, with a tasty sauce and reasonably generous topping, although as noted we had (slight) reservations about the base. The lasagne was an unqualified success, clearly homemade with a very savoury and rich tomato sauce, and plenty of cheese. There was a lovely crust of roasted sauce just starting to stick to the edges of the dish.
The dessert menu, after these treats, was disappointing. The tiramisu was home-made: light, balanced, and tasty. But everything else looked bought-in in frozen form: we tried the unpleasantly synthetic-tasting ice-cream and regretted it. The focus is clearly on the savoury dishes.
The price was neither cheap nor expensive given the standard of the meal. We chose a good but not exceptional Sicilian red which cost £19; but one could eat fillingly and drink house red for £15-£20 a head. On the subject of drinks, they have Birra Moretti on tap, which is good to see; most small Italian places don’t seem to bother with draught.
This isn’t a wheelchair-friendly place – there is a table on the ground floor, but the (shabby but clean) toilets are up and then down some stairs. Nor is it particularly suited to coeliacs – the only gluten-free things on the menu are risottos (of which the chicken and mushroom is reported as large and tasty.)
Overall, Mario’s is a good, honest, slightly quirky restaurant which inspires considerable loyalty in its customers, without being completely authentic. It is positioned between the old-fashioned authenticity of Luna Caprese and the glitzy pricy chaininess of La Cucina and Jamie’s Italian; it has something in common with the cheerful accessibility of Fratelli’s. It’s a place to go to for a casual date, or for a relaxed evening with good friends. Make sure you’re hungry or you won’t be able to make the most of it.
Miranda Rose (DI Staff), 10/11/08
Some friends at brookes had recommended the food at Mario's. So on Monday night some friends and i decided to try it out. Wow!!!!!!! They were so right. We had a pizza pescatore (mixed fish), pizza firenze (spinach, egg, paremesan) and a fab lasange. Everything is freshly made on the premises, the service was great really friendly and helpful and the food and drinks are very reasonably priced. We will definitely be back and soon.
Marwa & Saleh (Unverified), 05/03/08
Excellent food! we usually go for pizza, they are bloody tasty, service is nice but place not so nice, furniture is awful and chairs quite uncomfortable, probably to get rid of you as soon you finish your meals since place is rather small...good prices by the way.
Luigi M (Unverified), 16/06/07
Went with a group of 18 or 19 people on a Friday night. The food was pretty good, however, we arrived at 8pm. It took 20 minutes before we were approached for drinks, another 40 before starters arrived. 90 minutes had passed before the main course arrived. We weren't even offered a menu until after our drinks had been drained.
Try it on a quieter night and I imagine the service might be passable.
Be aware there is a mandatory service charge for 'large groups'. 10% So if the service sucks it might leave a bad taste in your party's mouth. 3 out of 5 stars. Would be 4.5 if they can sort out the service.
MoobyTheCow (Unverified), 19/05/07
Have all of these reviews been written by the owners?
It was okay, nothing special. Bland pizzas and pasta, but decently priced.
Unfortunately smoking is permitted.
LauraLT (Unverified), 08/04/07
I reserved a table for two at Mario's last weekend, as I saw great reviews. I looked on the website and I saw some fantastic pictures of the restaurant which left me impressed. However, the photographer that took those pictures was very clever, he made this restaurant much more attractive then what it was really like(LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING). I was slightly disappointed about the tricky pictures on the website, but the food was great and I would recommend anyone to go there, just remember to reserve your table as it was really busy any their was a lot of people waiting for a table.
Quel (Unverified), 19/02/07
As an addict of carbonara I thought I would be hard pressed to find a restaurant in Oxford that could satisfy my needs. And then I found Mario's. WOW...by far and away the best carbonara I have ever had!!! Add on top the amazing service, great starters and wonderful shabby chic interior and it is difficult to see why they have not added more joints?!!! For those unfortunates that do have to live in dreary Oxford, I suggest you get down to Mario's and let the carbonara brighten your lives. Enjoy.
carbonara man (Unverified), 14/11/06
Incredible, simple, Italian Food. This restaurant is a real diamond in the rough. This is my 3rd year living in Oxford and have never looked twice at Mario's. I was taken there by some friends and was so impressed. The outside of the restaurant makes it look run down and simple and not much like a place I would like to eat at. On the contrary, the atmosphere is great, the food is spectacular and the service is prompt and friendly. It is also very reasonably priced. I now frequent Mario's at least twice a week. I can't get enough. What a gold mine!
Queeness (Unverified), 11/11/06
My boyfriend and I stumbled across Mario's while we were living on Cowley Road and I have to say it is the best Italian in the whole of Oxford. The bruschetta to start with is amazing as is the cabonara. I can't understand why people on this site have written bad reviews about it because I have never had a bad meal there. I would highly recomend everyone to try it while you are in Oxford!!!
team brella (Unverified), 26/10/06
Compliments to the chefs in Mario's. We had a superb evening, the food was excellent, a great wine list and all round good service.
Thanks guys, we will return and rather soon !
Michelle & Hugo (Unverified), 05/08/06
I'm a language school student and study English in Oxford. I asked my host family to recommend a place to eat where I could eat Italian food to celebrate my friend's birthday. They said there was a great restaurant on the Cowley Rd called Mario's.
We went there on 11th of July at 8pm. It was very busy. We sat upstairs. The atmosphere was great, it was very friendly and cozy. They played some Italian music and I liked it.
I ordered spagetti Lucifero and my friend ordered pizza Mario. I loved Lucifero, the sauce was delicious, ummm. The pizzas were very good as well. Finally we ordered ice-cream but we found it was a bit plain.
We were talking to the waiter Domenico who was very friendly and served us all night very good.
I look forward to my next visit.
kent (Unverified), 27/07/06
Mario's is now under new management !!!!!!!!! As from July, 2006
I passed by Mario's on saturday afternoon and could see they were decorating inside, I asked if they were open for business as usual in the evening to which the reply was yes. I decided to book a table there and then as I know it gets busy at the weekends. It was the pizza chef Paulo (the George Clooney look alike !!!!!) that informed me of the management change.
We arrived as planned at 8pm, we ordered Pizza Firenze and a side salad together with Aubergine alla Mario and garlic focaccia. Our waiter, Domonic, was excellent, the service was A1, as was the food and the bottle of Pinot Grigio. We even managed desert, chocolate gateaux & a Tiramisu. The back ground music was a variety of Italian romance and uplifting tunes. We had a great night at Mario's and are looking forward to our next visit.
Fairly priced, excellent food and excellent service !
Katia Teresa (Unverified), 16/07/06
A group of four of us went to Mario's this evening. The pizzas are lovely, really fresh-tasting, but I would definitely advise take-away (it's a bit cheaper too). The service was really shocking; we waited ages to order without acknowledgement and then we had a VERY long wait for our food. The staff weren't exactly friendly either. Also, I definitely wouldn't advise the house white (though Mario's is by no means the worst offender for bad white wine).
All in all, definitely worth trying, but if you do decide to eat in be prepared for a long wait.
Jenni (Unverified), 31/05/06
I went to Mario's a couple of years ago, it was somewhere i'd wanted to go to for a while and had never got round to it. I'd taken a group of 10 people from work and most of us ordered pizza. I couldn't eat mine, and looking around nor could most of my fellow diners. The dough tasted as though the salt pot had fallen into the mixture, and the waiters didn't seem that interested when we told them. Sadly having heard lots of good things about Mario's I was very disapointed with the food and service.
I recently gave Mario's a second try. The service was OK, if not a little confused, we had to move tables twice. The food was OK, reasonably priced, but not the tasty home cooked fare everyone leads you to believe.
All in all Mario's is OK.
yum yum (DI User), 12/05/06
If you're in East Oxford and in need of a pizza, takeaway or a sitdown Italian meal it would be a crime not to visit Mario's. The best pizza I have eaten in a long time. I have not tried the pasta dishes or bakes etc but can definitely confirm that the pizza is great. Decor could be improved as restaurant is looking a little tired but service is cool and relaxed and so are the prices.
NB Takeaway price is discounted - a real bargain if you need an easy midweek meal.
I tell it like it is (Unverified), 14/04/06
This place has amazing pizzas and when I lived nearer, I used to have takeaways all the time! My boyfriend and I decided to eat in one night. Unfortunately, the side order of bread we ordered was stale and on inspecting it further in the dim light, it was in fact mouldy. We complained to the waitress who took it away but she gave no apology and gave no indication if we had to pay for it or not. It turned out we didn’t but it left a bad taste in our mouths! But apart from that, we both ordered the milano pizza which was really tasty.
I like to give places a second chance, this time I went with friends, and we were directed to seats. We were told that there would be a wait of 20 mins for the pizza which we all agreed as fine. We ordered wine and olives to pass the time, again the side order (olives) were past their best. The pizza turned out being a 45 mins wait.
The thing is, the pizzas are amazing and they even have takeaway pasta options. So even though I have had bad ‘side orders’ experience I would still visit again, but instead go straight to the main meal, which is no hard thing to do.
Sian (Unverified), 24/03/06
Walk past Mario's and the warm smell of freshly baking focaccia will beckon you in and then trail along the pavement behind you as you attempt to resist. Walk past Mario's every evening on your way home, and before long you will know that resistance is indeed futile as you find yourself seated in East Oxford's answer to Gino's Spaghetti House - a homely, traditional, family run Italian restaurant that serves fantastic food at a good price. It will definitely not be a bad decision. The focaccia that lured you through the doors into the airy upstairs or cosy downstairs sections of the restaurant can be eaten as garlic bread (£1.90), garlic and cheese bread (£2.90) or as a base for the huge variety of pizzas. (Mario's special comes with many recommendations - artichoke, spicy sausage, tomato, ham and anchovy - £6.70.)
And just as you found it impossible to ignore Mario's, once there, you will find it difficult not to salivate as plates of the garlic cheese bread are served to virtually every other customer there. You see, this bread is possibly the best garlic bread on the planet. I kid you not. And if bread with pizza seems too much to handle, there is a range of fantastic pasta dishes, from the traditional Spaghetti Bolognese to the to-die-for Fettucine alla Romana (£6.30) - a specialty of the Alfredo restaurant in Rome which combines peas, ham, cream and garlic. This dish, following my starter of Insalata del padrino (chick peas, tuna and lemon - £4.20), left little room for dessert on this occasion, but my friends all tormented me with spoonfuls of tiramisu and other Italian dolce. Wine is priced to suit every wallet, from £8.60 for house wine to £18 for Asti Spumante. Personally, I found the house red more than palatable, but if not wine, Nastro Azzurro is the Italian choice of beer, and it complements pretty much anything.
There is plenty of choice, for vegetarians and meat eaters alike and if you are feeling especially brave, the Fettucine alla Diavolo will definitely give you a kick. It is not so named without reason - the hot red chillies and capers are a fiery mix. For a less familiar dish, try the Aubergine alla Mario, a house speciality or stacked aubergines and melted mozzarella, baked and golden. And if there is something you want but can't see on the menu, the chef also welcomes requests. As a bonus to anyone who doesn't want to walk all the way to Cowley Road or simply can't be bothered to cook, Mario's offer not only take-away pizza, but pasta dishes too. And, a more recent addition that regulars will be pleased to note - Mario now accepts credit cards. No excuses.
Abby Chicken (Unverified), 11/08/03
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