The savory smell of pizza, the low murmur of students talking and the cold air of the Rathskeller all hit one’s senses as they walk into Montclair State University’s newest dining establishment. But they have come there for one sense and one sense only: the taste of hot, cheesy and gooey pizza.
Ever since the pandemic, the Rathskeller in the basement of the Student Center has been without its hallmark, 2Mato. Throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, the economic problems caused by the pandemic prevented some of the dining locations from being reopened, 2Mato being one of them. Senior students reminisce endlessly about the pizza, pasta and breadsticks they would order from the old Italian dining location.
But this year, Montclair State opened a revamped version of 2Mato, simply called “The Pizzeria at the Student Center.” With a fresh new logo and redesign, students were excited when news of the updated eatery came about.
As a foodie myself, I had to see if The Pizzeria was worth all the excitement it was getting. I’ve been on many late-night runs to the place, as have many other students.
Before we get into the food itself, let’s talk about the ordering experience. There’s no in-person ordering: everything is done through Grubhub. This cuts down traffic in the Rathskeller, which is convenient compared to the hordes of students upstairs in the Student Center Cafe.
However, this does affect the dining atmosphere in the Rathskeller and makes it less lively. Which is good if you want to get work done, but it doesn’t align with the vibe a pizzeria typically has. The place feels quiet and lonely.
Let’s start off with the namesake of the place, the pizza. There are a few varieties, from plain cheese to buffalo chicken. I went with the classic pepperoni (who doesn’t like pepperoni?).
The crust impressed me, especially coming from a campus dining establishment. It had that pizzeria taste and feel on the bottom when they dust flour on the dough. The crust also wasn’t like cardboard, so it’s a big improvement from the pre-packaged pizza from Freeman Dining Hall. It had just the right amount of flop as well.
The cheese was nice and stringy, which I enjoyed. When the cheese pulls off the pizza, you know it’s good (and it’s just more fun). The sauce didn’t stand out too much, which I didn’t mind.
All and all, I thoroughly enjoyed the pizza there. So far, The Pizzeria is living up to its name.
Of course, there’s the famous (or infamous) “Phat Rocky” sandwich. Lots of students have been looking forward to the return of this campus staple, while others’ stomachs turn at just the name.
The Phat Rocky is quite the sight to behold. It’s essentially a heart attack between bread: chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, curly fries and pepperoni all together with thousand island dressing. The sandwich also comes with lettuce and tomato (as if that makes it any healthier).
I, for one, as someone who has never had the Phat Rocky, was looking forward to this monstrosity of a sandwich. I could barely keep it together as I unwrapped it, fries spilling out as I picked it up. I tilted my head and managed to fit my mouth around the sandwich as I took my first bite.
And for all that hype, the result was very underwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a decent sandwich. But it was only that: decent. Not the mind-blowing meal that everyone had been saying it was. It tasted like a chicken club sandwich with cheese and fries. But besides the questionable pairing of pepperoni and thousand island dressing, there wasn’t any more to it.
With all that being said, The Pizzeria is still a great new addition to the dining options students have on campus. I’ve had their chicken parmigiana sub and their penne vodka on different occasions, both of which I would get again.
Some other students shared their opinions on the new dining location as well. Stephanie De Dios, a senior business administration major, enjoyed something that may seem very simple but is very crucial.
“I like [that] it’s really hot,” De Dios said. “I love hot food, and it’s really hard to come by hot plates on campus.”
Alexa Quito, a senior marketing major, said the updated venue was much better than its predecessor.
“2Mato was a hundred percent greasier,” Quito said. “And I feel like [the crust] was thin, so it wasn’t as fluffy [or] as doughy.”
Quito also stressed an important detail on the menu of The Pizzeria: meats like their pepperoni and buffalo chicken are listed as halal.
“[I’m glad that we are seeing] more inclusivity on campus,” Quito said. “I feel there should be more [food] from different cultures, so I’m glad that now there is an option for halal food on campus.”
The Pizzeria also has options for vegetarian students, including a veggie pizza and salads.
At the end of the day, The Pizzeria is one of the better places to eat on campus. Its namesake is the best on campus, and it has plenty of other options to choose from, even for students with special dietary needs. It’s a great place to stop by with some friends and pick up some food for the night.