Mary’s Pizza Shack is a prime example of how to do Redding Beer Week. Walking in at lunchtime, we were immediately surrounded by a full house and a lively atmosphere. The open kitchen, where the cooks fling pizza dough above their heads like magicians, adds a bit of entertainment to the dining experience. Redding Beer Week signs and placards were on the walls and a separate pairing menu, made specifically for RBW, offered four courses paired with some of Wildcard Brewery’s best beers.
It was immediately clear that Mary’s Pizza Shack’s staff put in the time to plan out an excellent pairing of their food with Wildcard’s beer. Our server, Mary (no relation), was a wealth of knowledge and insight on the brews and the food, and she even called an audible as we got our food, recommending that we switch the order on the third and fourth courses. Every course was a home run - thoughtfully paired with an excellent brew.
A shrimp bruschetta with a white wine and lemon sauce paired with the Textbook Pale Ale, a pale whose name says it all: solid hop backbone, a lingering earthy bitter, yet refreshing. The fresh lemon in the sauce brightened up the subtle earth and pine notes of the ale. “It’s like the food and the beer is [shaking hands] in my mouth,” said one of our writers. “These two are perfect together.”
A Mary’s signature Salad paired with the 530 Hometown Ale. Iceberg lettuce with salami, mozzarella, tomato, and red onion, topped with the roasted tomato vinaigrette that they discontinued in the last menu revamp. That’s right, they brought back a dressing because they thought it would pair well with the 530 Hometown Ale. Smart move! The vinegar and sharp tomato creates a smooth pathway to the beer’s crisp, dry finish, which leaves your taste buds begging for another sip. Pairings like this make you thankful for hot summers.
Course 3 Course 4:
This is where Mary switched things up for us. When she laid out our food, she recommended eating the Quattro Formaggio (four cheese) pizza and the Fresh Hop Double IPA before the Sopressata Pizza and the Imperial Red, as the latter pizza’s stronger flavors might overwhelm our taste buds. The parmesan, provolone, asiago, and mozzarella cheeses’ strong flavors perfectly balanced the bright, bitter, hoppy flavor of the Fresh Hop, and the crisp beer balance the cheeses’ creaminess perfectly.
Course 4 Course 3:
Our server nailed it. The Sopressata pizza, with its spicy meat, fresh arugula, parmesan and olive oil, is packed full of huge flavor and would have turned the volume down on anything we ate afterwards. The only beer that could stand up to it? Wild Card’s majestic Double Down Imperial Red. The sopressata crashes up against the Red’s sweet caramel maltiness like waves on a seawall, and the beer’s hoppy finish washed away the sopretta’s salty notes, leaving me ready for my next bite.
The portions were perfect - $15 for four courses and four tasters left us all perfectly stuffed. Hell, the intern couldn’t even finish.
Beer is no joke, and Mary’s Pizza Shack has certainly taken Redding Beer Week seriously. They did their homework, studied up on the beers, aced the pop quiz, then took the time to not only craft the perfect pairings, but to educate the diner about what they are drinking and eating as well.
Mary’s is putting on this pairing all week long, so head down and get a taste of some of the best food, beer, and service Redding Beer Week has to offer.