Thanksgiving is 100% a holiday for family and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone has a place to go for the holiday season – whether it be the circumstance, distance, or something else. But a local pizzeria in Hoboken — Mario’s — is making the holidays that much more inclusive, as it hosts a free yes, free, Thanksgiving meal every year. The meal, according to its owner, Mario Albunia, is for Hudson County locals in need of a warm + inviting place to go for the holiday and has become a 20+ year tradition that means so much to our Mile Square community. Keep reading to learn more about Mario’s Classic Pizza in Hoboken and how its owner started this tradition.
The humble pizza shop on the corner of 8th and Garden has been family-run for the last 30 years. Owned by Mario Albunia, this local pizzeria has been serving the community a delicious slice since 1986. On the menu there are more than 40 different options to choose from — think pizzas, subs, sandwiches, salads, and so much more. But on Thanksgiving, pizza goes to the backburner for 24 hours.
Mario’s Thanksgiving Tradition
“The dinner is for any and everyone who wants or needs it for the holiday — it doesn’t matter why,” Mario explained, noting that local residents donate turkeys to the restaurant, and Mario and his staff + family cook the entire meal themselves, no matter how many turkeys, to ensure that everyone gets a meal. The feast is then enjoyed right there in the pizzeria throughout the day for free.
“It started as a joke because I didn’t want to go to my wife’s family’s house down the shore and leave Hoboken,” Mario explained. “But then it just grew — into what it is today.”
And the people who come range from young to old, locals to non-locals. “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,” Mario told Hoboken Girl.
“The preparation for Thanksgiving is crazy, we prep the turkeys and start cooking them the night before. After that, it’s an assembly line, with our family prepping everything early the next morning when we start cooking all the sides yams, veggies, stuffing, cranberries. This traditional meal will, of course, be served dessert that was provided by our great customers.” he explained.
View this post on Instagram
The post reads, “For over twenty years we have been serving our community here in Hoboken free traditional Thanksgiving dinners and this year will be just like all the others. On this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, starting at 11AM we will be serving free meals. Please help spread the word to people who may be in need this holiday. Our meals are totally free for absolutely anyone who stops in so if you need a meal, have nowhere to go, are stuck in town, or simply want to come to hang out, anyone and everyone is welcome. We appreciate all of our customers who have donated or who donated in the past. We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!”
In 2019, they served about 350 people, Mario told us.
The Meal Details
This meal is open to any and everyone in the community who wants to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with the community — all for FREE — throughout the day.
Thanks for keeping this tradition alive, Mario! Spread kindness today + every day.