A few weeks ago I was invited to preview the newest customizable food restaurant in Columbia, opening in a prime location on Main Street and in the heart of campus at the University of South Carolina. Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint is located on the ground level of the Adesso building, also known as next to Yoghut, or also known as where Jasmine Deli used to be.

Maddio’s calls themselves “the Moe’s of pizza” with good reason since one of Moe’s co-founders was the one to create the same thing in a flatter format. Once you walk in to Maddio’s, you queue up and the workers behind the counter all yell excitedly to welcome new customers to the restaurant, but since this was their preview night and every single person they employed was there, the yelling wasn’t quite uniform and on cue yet, but the level of energy in a greeting isn’t how I choose where to dine.

I had a few moments to scan over the menu and selected the first thing I saw for Patrick, which was a personal sized Steak & Blue pizza. He asked for something meaty, and he does love his red meat, but he really tore into it once I got it home and kept commenting on how good it was, which made me feel better about my hurried choice.

For myself I figured I’d go a little crazy and try Daiya, the vegan cheese, since they offered it and I’d never had it before. In addition to the Daiya cheese, I ordered red sauce, caramelized onions, and pineapples for my also personal sized pie.

I can’t remember why but I was feeling a little frazzled-y from work or something earlier that day so these pizzas got boxed up for me and brought home. Okay fine, I admit that I started chowing down on mine in the car while I was driving, and half of my pizza was demolished before getting home. This photo was taken before I pulled out of my parking spot. NO SHAME IN EATIN.

The crust was nothing to write home about, just a standard whole whole dough (you can choose white, whole wheat, or gluten free) that is rolled out to a medium thickness and isn’t greasy or too thick and chewy. It isn’t Noni’s secret from recipe from Sicily, but it does a nice job acting as an edible plate for the huge variety of toppings. By now you may be wondering how they cook a whole pizza without having the line jam up with people waiting. They use an assembly line process behind the counter similar to Moe’s where you tell them what you’d like on your pizza or what type, but instead of wrapping your order up they toss it in a hot oven right behind the cashier for a few minutes so that by the time you’re done choosing add-ons (like salad, cannoli, drinks, etc.) and pay for your meal, they’ll hand you a box or plate full of oven fresh pizza. This wasn’t exactly the case during my visit because I was there for the preview night, so no judgement on that at all. It was pretty close though, I didn’t have to wait for very long for both of my pizzas.

The toppings were all fresh, and the Daiya was… well it was interesting. It melted just fine, and looks just like shredded mozzerella. The taste isn’t so unusual as to be off-putting, but I could tell that it wasn’t regular mozzerella cheese. It didn’t inspire me to leave all cheese behind and go vegan all the time, but I am sure that vegans in transition enjoy it and are glad that it exists.

I enjoyed my pizza and polished it off in no time. Since it was a preview night I was gifted a little goodie bag with information about the chain, a plastic pizza cutter that Patrick absconded with, and a coupon for a 9″ pizza on a future visit. I intend to get by there for lunch perhaps even today or tomorrow and try out some of their other combinations. This restaurant should be a welcome addition to the quick serve food options especially with their endless options (which also includes gluten free crusts) for the students, faculty, and staff at the university, and other downtown workers. They have plenty of space to sit down and eat in the restaurant, but pizza just seems like such a to-go kind of food.

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