There is no question that pizza is a staple in the diets of most college students. Pizza is inexpensive, tastes great and is an excuse for students to ditch their schoolwork and head up to Geneseo's Main Street for a bite to eat. However, once students reach Main Street, they are faced with a difficult decision. Should they split a pie from Pizza Paul's or grab slices from Mama Mia's? With Mariazza's gone, the competition is down to two.
Many students can attest to the fact that Mama Mia's is the place to be on weekend nights, especially since the pizzeria is open until 3 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Mia's, which has been in business since 1990, serves a diverse menu of pizza, subs, salad and pasta. As many students have only experienced the high energy atmosphere that exists there on weekend nights, some would be surprised to find the calm and relaxing atmosphere of Mia's during the day.
"All of my friends and I love Mia's because it has such a college friendly atmosphere," sophomore Aline Heffernan said. While Mama Mia's appreciates the influx of student business that Geneseo provides, they claim not to cater to any specific age group.
Manager Ryan Lesandro explained that instead of focusing on a specific demographic, the pizzeria chooses to focus on good quality food that all ages can appreciate. Of Pizza Paul's, Lesandro has "never tried it. Once you go to Mia's," he said, "you don't want anything else."
Mama Mia's is certainly a favorite among Geneseo students, however, Pizza Paul's should certainly not be overlooked. Although a smaller restaurant, it provides an equally relaxed and homey daytime atmosphere. The pizzeria, which opened in 1993, is very quaint, with a few tables, over-the-counter service, and a large vending machine filled with a variety of beverages. The workforce at Paul's is unique in that it is made up of both older community members and college students, as opposed to Mama Mia's primarily student employmees. Paul's manager John Klingensmith said that morale is always high among employees and that they "leave their personal problems at the door" so they can focus solely on pleasing the customer.
Though most prices are comparable, some of the items on Pizza Paul's menu are slightly cheaper than those of Mama Mia's. A slice of pizza with toppings would cost $2.50 at Mia's, while at Paul's it costs $1.87. Paul's also offers a unique dish called the "subzone" which is a combination of a submarine sandwich and a calzone.
Despite all that Pizza Paul's has to offer its customers, Mama Mia's extensive late night hours are likely the main reason why "Mia's" has become such a household name around the Geneseo campus. Although Paul's and Mia's both offer late-night hours on Friday and Saturday nights, Mama Mia's is also open until 1 a.m. Sunday-Tuesday and until 3 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday . Pizza Paul's closes at 11 p.m. all nights except Friday and Saturday.
Junior Shamiran Warda said, "I love Pizza Paul's pizza, but if I want a slice at midnight on a Thursday, I'll choose Mia's just because Pizza Paul's isn't open." Since Thursday is viewed as an extension of the weekend at Geneseo, the early closing time greatly hinders the college business at Pizza Paul's.
It is clear that both Main Street pizzerias offer both perks and drawbacks. The best way for students to decide which pizzeria is the best for them is to explore the menus and experience the atmosphere. Whether seeking an exciting atmosphere, a diverse menu or simply a fun and affordable place to hang out with friends, every student will be able to find his or her niche at Mama Mia's or Pizza Paul's.