Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mariella Pizza

Joe writes in about the closure of Mariella's Pizza on 16th Street and 3rd Avenue:

"After 37 years, Mariella's bit the dust. I spoke to the owner and he was fuming over the long list of expenses, rent and rent tax being the biggest culprits.

He was so pissed as he explained it to me, you would have thought I was the one throwing him out. They had the best food hands down of any pizzeria around! They always hosted a brisk business no matter what time of the day I went there, but as he fumed, 'After a while, how much can I charge for a slice?'"

Back in February, I heard from Liz Solomon. She wrote:

"There is a pizza place on the corner of 16th Street and 3rd Avenue called Mariella's. It has been there since 1976. Everyone needs a place like Mariella's in their life or they need to go back to Iowa. Great slices, pies, and low-end Italian food.

Con-Ed workers came across the street in droves, kids from the extreme demographic divide of Friends Seminary and Washington Irving were after school slice regulars and there delivery business was enormous. I live in a medium sized building two blocks away and I could guarantee on any given night four or more Mariella's deliveries came through our building alone.

Then all of a sudden Mariella's shut down. This was about three weeks ago. They said it was due to a 'gas leak in the building' but nothing has happened and I don't see anyone working there. The metal gate has been down constantly. No one who generally knows everything that happens in the neighborhood knows anything.

If this is the end of Mariella's, it closes another door to MY New York and no doubt will open another for tourists and transplants and the kind of people who line up for farcical desecrations of the sacred bagel, the existence of which must be making my father spin in his grave."

Mariella's had reopened after the "gas leak," and then closed again for good, possibly in part to lost business during the forced closure.

Ever since the 2nd Avenue gas explosion, "gas leaks" have been killing small restaurants, shuttering them for months and requiring expensive upgrades. Is this necessary? Or is it the city asking too much of mom and pop? Why don't we ever see Starbucks shuttered due to a gas leak? Instead of the B&H Dairy, The Stage, La Taza de Oro, The Carnegie Deli, and other longtime locals? Someone needs to look into this. 


Caleo said...

I remember this place from when I lived in the Gramercy area back in the early 90's.
As far as why and how this is happening, you know the answer to that. The "gas leak" excuse is being used to push unwanted, by the landlords, ground floor shops out of existence.
After Stage, which we were not even allowed to give a proper send off to, I have given up all hope. Too much demographic turnover has happened and the real estate industry is in high gear and will remain so until the bubble bursts. There isn't really much to save.
People with enormous resources have wanted to remake the city in their own image for decades and they seem to be several steps ahead of real New Yorkers. That and they have no scruples. When average people try to fight billionaires with no morals and unlimited funds you can imagine who will ultimately triumph.
This process is not limited to this city.

Unknown said...

Fuck. After my wife died, when Lily was in pre-k, we used to stop there two or three times a week after school. The pizza was always great. The guys behind the counter, even though they knew us, were rarely great. They were too busy. But it was a comfortable joint; the slices were always dead on; and they let us alone. I am very bummed to hear the city got them. But then it also is clear; this wave is going to get every place like this; it is going to get every rent stabilized person or longtime tenant.

Anonymous said...

this was a particularly difficult one to take. this was my favorite slice in the entire city. and it was one of the last places in the neighborhood (thank god for joe jr. across the street) where i could go sit for more than five minutes and gather my thoughts, eat leisurely and take a deep breath without feeling rushed out of the place.

one of the last times i stopped by, me and one of the employees and two other random new yorkers got into an impromptu debate on which of hitchcock's films were his best. how many places does that kind of thing happen outside of new york fucking city.

as noted above, it was a constant mix of every stripe of new yorker and it still had a distinct nyc feel: brusque but welcoming. that balance is all but obliterated from the city now.

i wish i had saved some of the old photos from their website. these guys have been here so long and were cut from real cloth.

one last anecdote: the pizza here was so damn good, my father (who has been a vegan for nearly 20 years) walked in with me one day, took one whiff and decided to cheat by having a slice. the next day, i found out he went back on his own to have another. it was that good.

thanks for the memories.

Mike the Laborer said...

Yes. If you're stealing gas and putting the public at risk, you deserve to be out of business. I'm not saying this was the case here, but to treat the Second Avenue explosion as if it were some sort of conspiracy cooked up to help shutter businesses is sheer madness. Second Avenue destroyed almost the whole block and KILLED TWO PEOPLE. Why weren't the small business owners involved is stealing gas in that incident charged with murder? Because that's what they are, plain and simple: murderers. Something to remember: small business owners are just as often scumbags as they are the backbone of the community. They use an exploitable immigrant workforce and pay them substandard wages and no benefits. They collect sales tax from us, the customers, and then don't remit those taxes to the state. And yes, sometimes they steal gas and murder innocent people.

Pat said...

I will miss Mariella too. I liked their slices, even if I had to wipe the table a lot, heh-heh. With Mumbles across the street out of business too, it does not look good for Third Avenue. Additionally, Rocky Slims closed on 25th & Third. Their slices were more expensive, but they were very good.

Caleo said...

Mike the laborer- Calm down dude. Once the gas explosion took place many landlords saw it as an opportunity to flush unwanted tenants and businesses out of their buildings by claiming there were issues with the gas lines and then shutting off gas for entire buildings.
That is what happened with Stage.
If a landlord is illegally siphoning gas or created a hazardous situation, they should feel the full weight of the law up to and including murder charges if people lost their lives.
That is most certainly not the case with Mariella and many other mom and pop shops including Stage, as well as tenants in buildings who go months without gas while "repairs" are made.

Peter said...


Your response is over the top. You conflate retail tenants with building owners and lump them all in as "small business owners." You need to look at the economic interests of each group. The people who jury-rigged the gas that caused the explosion on Second Ave were hired by the building owner to do so. This was done to save money, because of greed. Greed by building owners to get top dollar rents may well account for the "gas leak" incident that preceded Mariella losing their lease. Wise up.

Joey Blau said...

Maybe the new business will paint over the graffiti and keep it clean. Disgrace.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Santos: "brusque but welcoming" - exactly.

Anonymous said...

Santos: Even though Mariella's web site is sadly gone now, you can still find pictures on their Yelp review page, at

It's sad to see such a great pizza place like Mariella's go under. Their pizza was truly among the best in New York, hands down.

Petra Bleistift said...

What exactly is meant by "the kind of people who line up for farcical desecrations of the sacred bagel"?

Brad said...

This sucks! I used to go to Mariella when I was a student at Stuyvesant and this past summer, took my daughter there, before going to a play at Union Square. This was the kind of place that used to be all over the city, just damn good pizza. Support these places, folks, they're a dying breed.

Dina D said...

I worked in the Police Academy on 20 Street for a number of years and Mariella's was the go-to spot for delicious pizza made from quality ingredients. When eating in, I reiterate what is said in the other posts - you were never rushed out. The place was busy & crowded, but you could stay & eat leisurely. When parties were held at Stills Bar there was no question as to where the food would be ordered: Mariella's, of course!!
A real loss...

Dina D