EAST SIDE MARIO'S
12 Lebovic Avenue
**+100 locations in Canada and 4 in the United States
Last night my family and I celebrated my sister's birthday with a trip to our local East Side Marios. I suggested the all-you-can-eat ridiculousness of Scarborough's Frankie Tomato's, but it was shot down early in the suggestions process. In retrospect I'm glad, because when put into all-you-can-eat situations, it brings out my inner Takeru Kobayashi, and I tend to overdo it. I don't see "all you can eat" as a value, as much as a challenge, and gluttony induced hospital visits are no way to celebrate the birthday of a family member.
So, East Side Marios it was.
I don't go to East Side Marios very often, and every time I go it seems to be different from the last. They seem to be a restaurant chain with a identity crisis. Initially they seemed to be something of a broke-ass Olive Garden, and then they expanded their menu and sort of Jack Astorized themselves. Now it appears they've tried to redact their jackastorism and classy up their menu, a la the Pickle Barrel. The reason I mention this is with all the shake-ups, they've removed chicken fingers from the menu. Chicken Fingers! I think every restaurant in the world should have to serve chicken fingers by law, just for picky children and guys like me. See, I generally enjoy simpler cuisine, so when in a fancy (or trying to appear fancy) restaurant, my unwillingness to try new things finds me defaulting to chicken fingers, which are often found on the secret "bar menu" that a lot of places have. It's pretty hard to mess up chicken fingers, I reason. But in East Side Mario's haste to appeal to classy mall shoppers, they've let them fall by the way side. People often claim that the Chinese character for "Crisis" is the same as the one for "opportunity" (which isn't true, but never let the truth get in the way of a good saying). Those Chinese are fucking onto something!
So with that in mind I ordered up a Burger, iPhone camera in hand, and thought "well, at least I can write a review for Angela's site, finally".
"Quit bullshitting. How was it?" you ask? Hold on, I'll tell you. Relax. Jeez...
It was actually delicious. The meat was juicy and the bun was warm but not crispy, the lettuce was just the right amount to give it crunch but not fall all over the place. It came served with Tomatoes, but I removed them as they're forged in the lowest rung of hell by the devil himself (which, you'd think would make them taste awesome, but I guess Satan has better taste in music than food).
So there you have it, for a place thats generally tethered to a mall and is primarily known for pasta and singing Joe Pesci lookalikes can actually make a good burger.