Mary Fazio started this legendary pizza joint in 1959, with $600 and the pots and pans from her own kitchen.

Marys-marysaucingIn 1959, Mary Fazio wisely took this casual advice from a friend: “You make such good pizza, you should open a restaurant.” The friend’s husband lent Mary one of his vacation cottages and, with help from her husband and son Toto, she quickly set up Mary’s Pizza Shack ( in Boyes Hot Springs, California, with $600 in savings and the pots and pans from her own kitchen. “She just loved working in the original shack,” recalls Vince Albano, CEO of Mary’s Pizza Shack and grandson of Mary. “She had it set up so that the kitchen was open to the dining room, and she’d sit and make her pizza and pasta, taking care of customers and singing to herself.”

Family would help out with running the place, and as the popularity of the restaurant grew, more relatives quit their jobs to work at Mary’s full-time. Eventually, after nearly 20 years of successful service, the family realized that the business had outgrown its original location, so the business moved down the street, and sales tripled in the first six months. Then, in 1980, Toto’s new son-in-law encouraged a second location, and today 19 Mary’s Pizza Shacks sprawl across Northern California. Amazingly, the entire family—now spanning several generations—is still involved with all operations. “Obviously, we’ve grown a lot,” says Vince. “But we work really hard to maintain the family atmosphere.”


Indeed, sometimes finding the correct balance of expansion and family-style service has proved challenging. “Figuring out how to hold on to your culture while expanding is really difficult,” Vince admits. “Especially when it’s a family company, it’s hard to not be able to control every plate of food, every guest interaction. But, because we are family-owned, because we all grew up in Nonny’s pizza shack, we’re committed to staying true to her values—Italian comfort food, taking care of our employees, giving back to the community. I think those values have allowed us to remain successful.” —Tracy Morin


  1. Marie BasuinoReply
    November 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Best Italian pizza and pasta to have had the pleasure dining on for many years. Many happy memories as a teenager in the original Shack! Mary’s Pizza Shack is a mainstay to Sonoma County. Love the homemade meatballs!

  2. cindyReply
    November 6, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    We ate there all the time it was a two hour wait sometime to eat there best pizza I ever ate still go there with my kids and grand kids

  3. Tony GrantReply
    November 8, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I worked for Mary’s do 26 years and it was a great experience I will never forget. It was like having another family because that’s how they treated me. I wish the best for this company for many years to come!!!

  4. November 28, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I quite literally grew up at the original Mary’s pizza shack. Mary was a family friend and the sweetest lady I’ve ever known. (unless she was angry.) I’m happy to say that after all these years the family still makes the food Mary’s way, and that’s a good thing, because Mary had it right.

    • Uncle DaveReply
      March 16, 2024 at 10:31 pm

      Jerry nailed it. When I go back to Sonoma, first place I’m going is Mary’s.

  5. Linda WeggReply
    November 30, 2014 at 5:20 am

    I was born aand raised in Boyes Springs as were my parents, and one of my fondest memories id of Mary’s! Loved it as small as it was. I wish I could go back to that time. Big 3…rememeber that? Or the Bath House, and Frank’s Trading Post? Ahhh

  6. KarenReply
    May 9, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I was born in Napa, Ca and raised since 2 in Boyes Hot Springs, Ca. For special occasions my Mom would
    take me to Mary’s. It was just her and I so I’m sure money was tight for her. But, she knew it was my
    favorite. I moved to Nevada County in the mid 70’s and was still able to go back to Sonoma area to see
    family/friends and have Mary’s pizza. Not as often as when living there. The nice thing is that they have a
    Mary’s pizza shack in Roseville, Ca, so for the last few years I/we can go as often as we like. It is truly one
    of my top 5 places to eat. I am soooo excited for tomorrow (Mother’s Day), because my beautiful daughter is
    going to take me there for part of my special day.

  7. January 10, 2023 at 6:43 pm

    […] Pizza Shack is a member of PMQ’s Pizza Hall of Fame and is one of the few existing U.S. pizza chains founded by a woman. Mary Fazio opened it in 1959 […]

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