In my married life, I’ve moved from San Antonio to New York City, to Austin and back to San Antonio again; and one of the major differences I’ve noted in every city is how the pizza is made. New York arguably had some of the best: I loved Patsy’s prosciutto and basil pie, the truffle-oiled masterpiece “The Tartufo” at Three of Cups, and even that infamous slice you wait in long lines for at Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. I also enjoyed the thin, greasy giants from the tiny pizza places in my neighborhood; you know, the kind where you can just grab a head-sized slice, roll it in your paper plate and eat while you keep on walking? Admittedly, atmosphere was not the strong suit of these places. Most had only two or three booths and a sort of non-existent, beat down decor. Their focus was making the perfect New York style pizza, and I’m not mad about that. I was also pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of pizza in Austin – my favorites being Home Slice, Austin’s Pizza Company, Brooklyn Pizza, and Mandolas, But upon returning to live in San Antonio with my husband and two small children, my experience of pizza has been Dominos, Chuck E. Cheese, Main Event, Incredible Pizza Company, Mr. Gatti’s and the mall. Let’s face it, the pizza at these places is more for convenience than anything. I did eventually venture out and try Grimaldi’s, Ray’s, and Dough – all delicious. And I am still dying to try Mellow Mushroom. But my family’s favorite pizza joint has easily become Maar’s Pizza & More .
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty more sophisticated options in both atmosphere and cuisine, but Maar’s makes me feel like I’m home. From the moment I pull up to this family owned restaurant, the Venice Beach style alien murals on the side of the building make me happy. Even the roadside sign makes my geeky heart smile. There is sort of a jenky 1970’s Restaurant at the End of the Universe vibe going on – and I really dig it. I have yet to find out the artist’s name who did the murals, but I would like to express my admiration to them. There are also several inside the restaurant, and my family loves to take pictures with them nearly every time we go.
The first thing you see when you walk in is an alien-bedecked bar that makes you want to order a pan galactic gargle blaster. You are also greeted by an alien-themed claw machine and a small gift counter with outer space-themed merchandise. The first two dining rooms feature large murals, and the last does not – though you will be greeted by plenty of otherworldly friends on your way to the bathroom. The overall atmosphere evokes a strange combination of theme park and dive bar. This is one of those places you can come with a big, loud family or your hyperactive kids and no one bats an eyelash at you (a major plus in my book). The whole vibe here is informal with a self aware sense of humor. Which, I guess, pretty much describes myself.
One of the most famous items on their menu is the Alien Fingers – totally addictive fried green beans that you dip in ranch dressing – and I refuse to not order them every time I go. And although I know they serve more than just pizza (hence the “& More” in their title), I have yet to stray from ordering it. My favorite combo is the bacon and sausage. I’m not the most adventurous eater, and I do tend to get stuck on the things I like – and the pizza here is perfectly likeable. The dough is on the thicker side of what I prefer, but the pie is generously sized and piled with cheese. The sauce is fresh and not too overpowering – except it’s quite heavy on the garlic, which I love.
The menu also boasts a tempting assortment of fried appetizers, salads, wings, standard Italian dishes and handful of other things. I’ve been dying to try their funnel cake fries, really not sure why I haven’t yet. The restaurant is also very involved in the community and hosts trivia nights, comedy shows and a variety of other events. My hope is that this little Nacogdoches Road gem, which opened in 2011, is around forever and becomes a San Antonio landmark – if it isn’t already.