I have been accused of being relentlessly negative about Morgantown, something which troubles me. Although I passionately dislike its utterly incompetent leadership, I don’t live in this city by accident. It is my home, and I love it here. So it is that I present Negativity Free Fridays. This weekly post will extol a virtue of this wonderful town of mine.
Because I don’t frequent the bars (5 times in 3 years doesn’t count as frequenting, does it?), I don’t have the opportunity to consume the concentrated evil that is bar food. This is good for my waistline but bad for my mental state of affairs, which demands plates of greasy horrible food be consumed regularly. So it was that I found myself going to Mario’s Fishbowl several weeks ago with my wife. She was taking a consultant to dinner and I tagged along because I had visions of crispy chicken wings drowned in sauce dancing in my eyes. Those visions were accurate.
Mario’s Fishbowl has what can only be described as the best wings in Morgantown. It is a bar without competition in this regard, no matter what advocates of Bw3 or Keglers try to claim, anybody who has ever had all three knows the score. (Mario’s chicken salad sandwich is nothing sneeze at either, nor is its loaded grilled cheese sandwich.)
-First and foremost, the wings come crispy, even if they’ve been sauced. This represents a marked improvement over those institutions which just can’t wait to pull their wings out of the fryer before they’ve been properly crisped. This is a function, perhaps, of the much smaller size of the assembled customers at Marios on a given night. Mario’s is a small, squat brick building that can’t seat 100 people. While I understand that those other restaurants are serving larger collections of customers at a given time (thus forcing speed), Mario’s is advantaged because they don’t rush your food out to you. It’s done when it’s done. That means it arrives tasting better because it’s been allowed to properly finish.
-Second, the environment in which the wings are consumed is far superior. Coming out of Keglers, you smell like a cigarette. Coming out of BW3, you smell like a carton of cigarettes. Coming out Marios, you come out smelling like a fried cigarette, which while not good, is far superior when compared to my other two options. Fried stuff just smells good, no matter how ungodly awful for you it is.
-Third, its more fun being in a place with genuine character, like Mario’s, than it is being in either of those other two places, both of which are entirely antiseptic by comparison. At the Fishbowl, you can read the history of its customers on the signs covering its walls. You can do neither at Morgantown’s established wings joints. Also complicating things is the waitstaff’s treatment of the customers. At Keglers, the staff seems to hate pretty much everybody who dares to sit down for a meal. At BW3, the staff seems to be an odd collection of misfits disinterested in the customers. At Marios, establishing yourself takes a moment, but once done, you’re treated well.
-Fourth, and most importantly, is the wing sauce. Mario’s is a simple butter and hot sauce combination that when mixed entirely serves to effectively coat but not soak the crisped wing. Again, there are so many people so anxious to overwhelm you with the sauce that the chicken itself is a forgotten component. Mario’s perfectly mixes the sauce experience with the chicken experience without attempting to declare a winner.
So in the end, there is no comparison: if you’re going out to eat wings, go to Mario’s. Even if you care about the fact that you come out of there smelling like a fried cigarette, you’ll be too happy to care.