Long awaited reopening of Mario’s tentatively slated for next week

MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
The newly refurbished Mario's located on River Rd. in Niskayuna.MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER The newly refurbished Mario's located on River Rd. in Niskayuna.

NISKAYUNA — For a long time, Mario’s was the only restaurant in Niskayuna that was locally owned and had its liquor license, remembers owner John Isopo.
Although that is no longer the case, Mario’s is still one of the most popular places for community members.
When they closed their doors for renovation last year, the Isopos said there was a loud outcry from the community asking when they would come back and whether they had decided to sell the place.
“It’s funny, I never realized just how many really great friendships we’ve made from the restaurant until we closed . . . people have been calling and calling almost every day asking when we’re going to open,” Isopo said.
During the renovations, John and his wife Katrina also opened up a new location in Latham called Anna’s Wood Fired Pizza Co. They also ran their Prima Pizza location in Schenectady.
To say that the Isopos have been busy would be an understatement to the point of inaccuracy.
While John has been running the day-to-day operations at Anna’s Wood Fired Pizza Co. and Prima Pizza, Katrina has been on site at Mario’s overseeing the construction of the place.
They had originally hoped to open at the end of April. But the date was pushed
back when their contractors had busier schedules than they’d anticipated and a few other minor setbacks and design changes cropped up.
“We went from remodeling to reconstruction and not by choice,” John said. When the Isopos first closed Mario’s doors in the fall of 2015, they had planned to replace some of the equipment and update the fixtures.
However, they quickly discovered that there had been a fire in the building during previous ownership and that the building was unsound. They tore down the old building, poured a new foundation and had redesigned framing built.
Along the way, they were able to create a new theme which kept with the original feeling of Mario’s but added a more modern rustic aesthetic.
“We had to create a new theme when we rebuilt and that part was kinda fun,” John said.
When customers first walk in there is a waiting area for open tables and for pickup.
“At our old location, we would get really backed up with people waiting for tables and then people coming in and out for takeout. But this will give customers a better space,” Katrina said.
Right next to that is the bar, which will have ten taps for craft beer and seating all around.
“We’re also putting up a wall between the bar and the seating area so that you don’t have people shouting across the bar from one another,” John said. It will also help to make the place a bit more family-friendly.
The table area will also have a small private section divided by a sliding barn wood door. John plans to keep that space available for customers to reserve for meetings or small parties.
“There was one customer we had who had taken her granddaughter here for her birthday every single year and she called and asked if we would be open for her granddaughter’s 16 birthday,” John said.
Unfortunately, Mario’s was well under construction then. But they’re hoping to make it up to the customer after the reopening.
“We were so surprised at the outpouring of support from everyone around us. We’re here working all the time on this place and sometimes customers will drop by and say, ‘Can we just take you out for dinner? Just one night?’” Katrina laughed.
But their building schedule doesn’t sleep or take evenings off and neither do the Isopos.
“We’ll be paving and just installing our beverage system over the next week. Then we get to pull everything together and start!” Katrina said July 7.
Their menu will be almost the same as their original, with a few updates.
“We’ll be making what we call Mario-style pizza now too,” John said. The same ingredients are used as their classic pizza, but it’s baked in a seasoned rectangular pan which gives it a bit of an extra flavor.
But the local favorites that customers have been craving will be back in stock.
The couple is aiming to open the sometime the week of July 17, barring any other interruptions, bringing back one of Niskayuna’s central family eateries.

INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER The new dinning room of Mario's. Thursday, July 7, 2016.

INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER
The new dining room of Mario’s located at 2850 River Road. Thursday, July 7, 2016.