By Charles Matranga and Wes Brown
Contributors to HottyToddy.com
Wesley Brown and Charles Matranga share more than the fact they are both second-year law students at Ole Miss: they both have a love for food.
The two first met during orientation at the Ole Miss School of Law. Having an instant connection, the two grew from classmates to friends and now wing and pizza aficionados.
Brown and Matranga share five decades between them of eating good food. With this much experience, the two decided they would be the perfect judges of Oxford’s wing—and now pizza—scenes.
Last school year, the duo rated wings from a variety of restaurants around the LOU community. From quality of ingredients to temperature and belly feel, these two law students are on the hunt to find Oxford’s best pizza.
“After spending a summer cleansing our palettes and not eating Buffalo sauce, Shark Bite is back and happy to bring you a definitive list of the best and worst pizza in Oxford,” Matranga said. “As many of you may remember, we try to be as tough as possible with our ratings. For example, we may describe pizza as being “decent” or “pretty good” but only rate it a 5 or a 6.”
This is because they believe a perfect pizza does not exist, and they reserve exceptionally high ratings for rare instances of culinary excellence, Brown said.
Price: Large (8 slices) $11.99
Within seconds of walking through the door, we knew our stomachs were in trouble. Bearing the decorative charm of a regional airport, this restaurant would not be our first pick for a romantic dinner date. Our time as food reviewers has taught us that looks can certainly be deceiving, so we maintained an open mind. Some positive qualities worth mentioning right off the bat are that we received very pleasant service and our meal was quite affordable. Our $12 large pizza provided enough food for three destitute law students.
Not long after we ordered, we were served with a piping hot half pepperoni/ half cheese pizza. Upon first bite, this pizza was reminiscent of the pizza you’d get at the roller-skating rink for your 5th-grade birthday party. The crust was not memorable and had the flavorful intensity of a communion wafer. There was an appreciable amount of cheese and it had a good consistency. Unfortunately, the flash flood level of grease on the pizza drowned out any of its potential flavor and contributed heavily to its low score on belly feel.
The sauce had a runny consistency and didn’t add any desirable amount of zest or tang to the experience. To make matters worse, this pizza had the structural integrity of a bowl of soup which gave it flop like James Harden in the NBA finals. Unless you’re looking for a challenge comparable to the last 30 seconds of a game of Jenga, avoid eating this pizza hot.
The best part of our pizza experience was the pepperoni. The ideal pepperoni should add a solid kick of salt and spice to a slice of pizza. It should also find the perfect balance maintaining tender meatiness at its center and crispness curled up around the rim. Aside from lacking our preferred level of thickness, Marco’s pepperoni satisfied these criteria.
The fact that Marco’s stays open until midnight (2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday) is a heavy indicator that this pizza was meant to be drunkenly inhaled before passing out with your shoes on, so we can grant them a little leeway. Despite its flaws, Marco’s Pizza was an enjoyable inaugural location for SharkBite’s semester-long endeavor into the Oxford pizza scene!
Hunt Bros at Oxford Junction
Price: $2.89 “Hunk A Pizza” (single slice)
Overall Dough Cheese Sauce Pepperoni Constitution Temp Belly Feel
Our second destination in our semester-long search for the best pizza in Oxford fared no better than our first. But we were forced to confront our deepest fears early by having to review Hunt Brother’s pizza, found only at your nearest gas station. Normally, we would consider eating gas station pizza without contracting dysentery a 10/10 experience. However, as food critics, we had to rate this slice the same as we would a pizzeria on the coast of Sicily.
This pizza tasted like the weird cousin to the DiGiorno frozen pizzas you’d find at any grocery store. Our biggest red flag was that this pizza was boxed and sold by the slice after sitting for an undisclosed amount of time under a flickering heat lamp. The cashier was as surprised as we were that we were spending our hard-earned student loan money on this pizza.
We were less than impressed after our first bite. There was an impressive amount of cheese atop this hot mess, but the impressiveness ended there. The cheese and sauce were nearly flavorless. The pepperoni was razor-thin and only operated as a garnish. You know you’ve reached a culinary low point when you find yourself looking longingly at a bag of Lay’s Deep-Dish Pizza potato chips on the snack rack while eating an actual slice of pizza. It is also a rare situation that a hungry student stops eating a slice of pizza halfway, but we fought that temptation.
These bottom shelf ingredients were styled on a memory foam crust. The high(er) points of this slice were constitution and temperature, which, to be honest, are gimme points in our reviews. Despite sitting in the pizza tanning bed for what may have been hours, it was hot enough to nearly burn our hands. This pizza was absolutely unaffected by gravity, as in the ingredients were stuck to the crust in such a way that would require a chisel to pry them apart.
Oxford Junction proved to be a culinary melting pot. They were stocked with an assortment of all the junk food from potato chips to ice cream. In addition to the pizza is a deli with menu items ranging from catfish to sandwiches. If you are South of Oxford, need gas, are craving pizza, and want to wash your meal down with 31 flavors of gas station Baskin Robbins, Oxford Junction could be your first choice.
• 9.0-9.9: Very rare pizza. Hard to find outside of New England.
• 7.0-8.9: Great pizza, place you actively recommend to friends and family, a go-to spot
• 5.0-6.9: Decent pizza, but something wasn’t just quite “right”, you might order it again if you just happen to be there
• 2.0-4.9: Yikes, probably overpriced, an absolute disaster
• 0-1.9: Very rare that a pizza experience is this bad, maybe results in violent food poisoning
• Dough: Crispy/chewy, thick/thin, burnt/raw, oven spring
• Cheese: Amount, flavor, texture/grease level, consistency
• Sauce: Tangy/sweet/savory/bland, amount, consistency
• Constitution: Structural integrity of the slice
• Pepperoni: Amount, thickness, crispy/chewy, grease level
• Temp: Unless it’s breakfast time and you’re pulling it straight out of the fridge, pizza is best served hot. We’re looking for a pizza that is fresh but not on fire. Temp rating may be deducted if excessively hot.
• Belly Feel: Does this pizza make you feel like you ate a brick? Are you bogged down? Is heartburn imminent?
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