Hey there, first-years! St. James Deli and Spirits, for those of you who don’t already know, is at the corner of Three Notch Road and Mattapany as an Oceanic gas station/food-gem of St. Mary’s. Only a five-minute drive or an 11-ish minute bike ride, the deli is convenient and well-priced, making it a hot spot for St. Mary’s students. When I went to try it out on September 2, I had just finished moving in a friend and was absolutely starving from running back and forth from the cars to the suite.
Having worked at an Italian restaurant back home in Bethesda for three years, I knew that the pizza takes about 20 minutes to cook, so I called ahead and placed the order for two large cheese pizzas, which they actually informed us was a special deal: $18 for two large pizzas. After killing time for 15 minutes, we left and parked under the Oceanic gas station sign and entered the deli, not expecting much from something that looked like a run-down 7-11. We stepped inside to a surprisingly bright and spacious store, a kind of combination of a gas station food stop, a liquor store, and a deli, but in a good way.
The laid-back atmosphere was the perfect antidote to a morning of running around and unpacking. The staff was extremely friendly and polite, welcoming us with warm smiles and hot food. We picked up the pizzas from the food counter, walked a couple feet over to the cashier on the other side of the room, paid, and left. There was no place for us to eat inside the store, so we made the five-minute drive back to campus and ate in my friend’s suite in Lewis Quad.
As a former waitress and a self-confessed pizza snob, I was not expecting to find an excellent pizza place so far from the rest of town and so close to campus. The short drive meant that the pizza was still hot and fresh, but had cooled down enough to eat it immediately. The pizza was absolutely fantastic; the tomato sauce a perfect compliment to the seasoned cheese and the warm (and slightly sweet) crust. The slices were huge; I was only able to eat two before feeling extremely (but comfortably) full.
For what it was, St. James was an excellent pick. Had I wanted a sit-down restaurant or even a dine-in deli, I would have been slightly disappointed. But given the location of the deli being right next to a gas station, I had lowered my expectations and been pleasantly surprised. For a casual, carry-out deli with fantastic service and excellent food, I give St. James 4 and a half stars out of 5.
It is quick and simple and a good alternative for when you are halfway through the semester and sick of the Great Room pizza, but don’t want to shell out $30 (without tip) for a Papa Johns delivery when you can pick up the same thing for $18 and ten minutes of your time. I highly recommend St. James for a casual night or for good carry-out, but I would not recommend going there for a special or fancy occasion.