Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

By the Slice Pizza Review

Jordie Simpson
A fresh pepperoni slice purchased from Big Mario’s.

This article is a pseudo-comprehensive guide to by-the-slice pizza in Capitol Hill. Three walk-up spots are judged on their pepperoni slices: Hot Mama’s, Ian’s and Big Mario’s. If you feel that there is any pizza spot missing from this list, come and write for The Spectator to do a review yourself! 

Before the review begins, you may be asking, “why did you choose pepperoni instead of cheese?”… and the simple answer is, I like pepperoni… and, Hot Mama’s, our first location did not have any cheese made by noon.

George holding a fresh slice of pepperoni from Hot Mama’s in Capitol Hill. (Jordie Simpson)

Hot Mama’s

The first stop on the Pizza Tour felt like it was still waking up at 12:30 on a Friday afternoon. After walking 15 minutes from the heart of campus on a rainy day, it was quite the surprise to be told that Hot Mama’s did not have any cheese pizza prepared. The pepperoni we ended up ordering was not even out of the oven when we first arrived.

Nevertheless, securing the first pepperoni slice of the day meant that it was fresh and primed for a genuine review. Unfortunately, upon picking the slice up, impressions immediately went downhill. 

Grease is not a bad thing, especially on a pepperoni pizza, it’s what you should expect, but, upon picking up Hot Mama’s slice, the paper plate beneath had turned into a giant nacho cheese Dorito. 

The amount of grease meant that the pizza felt weighed down and flimsy. One of the most important parts of reviewing pizza is considering the undercarriage, especially on a large New York Style slice (which all three of our by-the-slice spots specialize in), and at Hot Mama’s, the undercarriage was structurally flawed. When picked up and folded, the slice had a disheartening flop. 

In terms of the crust, it was not overcooked but still had a solid crunch. However, the flavor of the dough was not for me. Heavy on the cornmeal, the base distracted from the rest of the slice. 

A six to seven inch cheese pull on the first bite was the highlight of the slice, a testament to its freshness. Another positive was the sauce—nothing to be blown away by, but a proper portion and decent flavor profile. 

Overall, Hot Mama’s was unable to support its own weight, seemingly prioritizing their specialty slices like BBQ chicken and pesto with feta over the fundamentals. With too much grease on an impressively thin slice, the combination of a cornmeal-y crust and lacking undercarriage meant that great cheese and decent sauce were unable to make the pepperoni slice better than just ok. 


Unique pizza flavors from Ian’s pictured with a view of the kitchen. (Jordie Simpson)


The next stop was Ian’s, where both cheese and pepperoni were available. Located on Broadway, right across from Seattle Central, Ian’s is a decent walk from campus, but well worth the trip. 

With Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” playing on the speakers, Ian’s had a very different vibe from Hot Mama’s, which is only a walk-up window, and Big Mario’s, which has a moody, bar-like atmosphere. 

The friendliness of the interior combined with the fact that the crusts of the pies in the window seemed a bit pale, made me question whether our slice would have character. Thankfully, I can confirm that I was pleasantly surprised. 

Despite its bland complexion, the crust had a decent crunch and great flavor, though, the undercarriage still gave way to a decent amount of flop. 

Less greasy than Hot Mama’s, Ian’s slice was clean-cut and simple. With another impressive cheese pull, the first bite burnt the top of my mouth, but in a way, you can appreciate it while eating pizza. Furthermore, the sauce and pepperoni worked well with the flavor of the dough, offering a more balanced taste than the cornmeal-heavy Hot Mama’s.

Overall, the family-friendly aesthetic in Ian’s clean and spacious dining room fit in well with a proper slice of pepperoni that made up for a lack of structure with large portions, and great, balanced flavors. 


The large pepperoni slice from Big Mario’s, with a few bites from George. (Jordie Simpson)

Big Mario’s

The closest of the three by-the-slice spots in this review, Big Mario’s, is a staple for people enjoying night life in Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, visiting on a rainy Friday afternoon, the slice matched the weather, and I had a stream of grease sliding down my hand, and a slice that was soft… borderline soggy. 

Far and away from the pizza I have gotten the most during my time at Seattle U, Big Mario’s does not always miss as bad as it did during this review. However, reviewing the slice I received was nearly comical. 

Folding the slice as one should when eating a New York style pizza, I quickly had a river of grease running down my hand and wrist as I prepared for my first bite. Partially the result of a preponderance of pepperoni, the grease would have been less objectionable, and maybe even welcome, were I trying to soak up some fluids after a night out. 

Unfortunately, I was sober, and the pizza was a sobering experience. The flavors were fine, the crust was fine, more crunchy than the other spots in this review, but the base of the pizza was either too drenched by the grease, or soaked by the sauce to a point where it was depressing. 


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Jordie Simpson, Staff Photographer

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