After 36 years in the pizza business, Mario Albunia, longtime Hoboken resident and owner of Hoboken’s Mario’s Classic Pizza on Garden Street, has decided he’s ready to retire. The Hoboken resident posted on his Facebook page that he was putting his long-time restaurant up for sale.
In the Facebook post, Mario wrote,
“For sale Hoboken well-established pizza business 36 years fast food with liquor license corner building. With two apartments. Seating indoor and outdoor when it’s nice out. 4.25 mil. You get two free weeks to Casa Albunia Santa Maria Italy for 10 years on the beach.”
Mario’s Classic Pizza served its first slice in Hoboken on Garden Street in January of 1986, when Mario decided to switch from running pizza shops on the Seaside Heights boardwalk to Hoboken — so he could work closer to home.
In an interview with The Hoboken Girl in 2018, Mario shared his story with us. “After college, I came right to work here looking to keep the values and traditions alive,” he said. “I’ve been making changes and adapting our family business to today’s world, setting the stage for many more years of success in the future.”
While the shop itself has seen minor changes over the years — such as the move from 741 to 742 Garden Street for an upgraded space — Albunia and his family have evolved the menu to meet the demand from today’s customers.
The original menu featured traditional pizza offerings; today, it boasts a menu of more than 40 different options, from pizzas to salads and sandwiches to subs. Some of the shop’s most popular slices include a simple pepperoni one to a chicken Marsala slice, as well as more creative concoctions, such as the burrata arugula slices and gluten-free pies. For Albunia, it was all about smartly transforming the business and menu while remaining true to the pizza shop’s core.
“To stay in business this long, we have to be doing something right. This longevity is really something we pride ourselves on.”
One reason, according to Mario, that Mario’s Classic Pizza has survived the area’s competitive restaurant industry is its deep roots in the Hoboken community.
The Albunia family kept the business integrated into the neighborhood by sponsoring events and little leagues, and of course, the shop’s longstanding tradition of providing free Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who wants or needs it on the holiday.
The tradition started with one turkey, and the last few years they had over 20 turkeys to serve — all donated by local residents. Mario and his family + friends cook the food, and people stop by throughout the day, free of charge, to eat and enjoy the day. “It’s college students who can’t go home for the holiday, people who don’t have family in the area, those who don’t have the means to make dinner, and people who just want to spend time at the shop with us,” he shared.
^Mario on Thanksgiving Day in 2018
Even during the pandemic year, this tradition held strong — with Thanksgiving meals-to-go, more important than ever, with so many in need.
As far as what’s next, Mario will be running the restaurant until he finds a buyer; so don’t fret if you’re looking for your pizza fix just yet. We’ll keep you posted on further details as they become available.