Time Out says
Turns out Mary's are also good at rustic Italian
What’s a cute pizza restaurant like you doing in a pub like this? This is what we think as we squeeze into the 12-seat pocket that has been cordoned off from the rest of the Lansdowne. And for a self-described vanity project from Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham, it’s really good.
To start with it’s cosy – so cosy it could be a sitcom set. There are only about five tables crammed into floorspace that would be considered generous if you were talking about pantries. You’ve got two people running the floor, including Smyth himself on our visit, and they are fully embracing the introduction of table service, fetching natural wines or Resch’s with equal enthusiasm and hospitality.
Of course, the Unicorn Hotel and the Lansdowne are both pubs, which under the stewardship of Smyth and Graham have forged strong reputations for quality pub food, but what you can get inside this walk-in-wardrobe-sized diner is setting the bar higher again.
Even the crusts are great. Leftover pieces of that 72-hour proved pizza dough are rolled into breadstick-like shapes, baked, sprinkled in chilli, fennel seeds, oregano and oil, and served with a smoked tomato cashew butter. You will want a second serve.
Lovers of novelty snacks, retro canapés and strong flavours will have two thumbs up for devils on horseback. Almonds covered in ‘nduja, stuffed in a prune and wrapped in Mary’s trashcan bacon does not sound like a good time, but these hot bites are a spicy cross between Christmas pudding (with the suet) and sausage and chutney. There’s a lot going on but it’s a wild ride worth taking.
It’s a hard yes to potato puffs, like savoury doughnut holes resting on an intensely rich and savoury smoked eel emulsion with crème fraîche, chives and trout roe. It has the spirit of a potato latke, but with the luxe factor turned up to 11.
A smooth, creamy sauce infused with the flavour of prawns coats the hand cut fettuccine, which also wears a cap of avruga – a smoky, black caviar stand-in. You don’t expect something so highbrow to come out of a pub kitchen, but that’s the mystery and delight of Mary’s Pizzeria. The wall tells you to fuck yourself in graffiti (in Italian, cos they classy) while simultaneously serving you food that is many rungs above what you expect from a place with a pool table and beer available by the jug. But that’s the kind of juxtaposition that has always made Mary’s so great. Slayer on the stereo, graff on the walls, quality beef in the patties and ace wine. Mary’s Pizzeria is singing a similar tune, but with a continental accent, and it’s a really good time.