There’s not a single good slice of pizza in central Massachusetts. That isn’t a hard fact one must accept—it’s just the objective truth. And if you want anything close to decent, you’ve got to drive at least an hour. Lucky for me, Providence isn’t that far a slog, and there’s Pizza Marvin where you can gorge yourself on Roni slices with cherry peppers and honey while slurping oysters.
But the new Rhode Island pizza parlor isn’t just serving up tasty pies; they’ve also got a killer look steeped in nostalgia courtesy of Max Fisher Design.
Just take one look at their Instagram feed, and you’ll find crack, drool-worthy food photography paired with a rock-n-roll-meets-skate aesthetic as well as a pizza triangle logo decked out in checkerboard red and white. It’s everything you want from a pizza parlor, and the design elevates the upstart restaurant into something more.
“Owners Robert Andreozzi and Jesse Hedberg came to me looking to launch a modern house of pizza,” says designer Max Fisher of the restaurant that opened last December. “Essentially the best tastes and memories of nostalgic pizza parlors, crafted into a more refined menu and setting. Both owners have an affection for the 80s and 90s aesthetic and eclectic taste in music. Those were some of the inspirations we pulled from creating this brand. We used classic pizza parlor motifs like red checkerboard patterns in packaging and tabletops and vintage typography with overt contact methods (our phone number) in the exterior signage and shirts. A flexible logo system and illustrative pattern rounded out the in-store graphics and packaging.”
In-store experiential elements aside, you’re also treated to beautifully designed merch and packaging. Of course, they sell Nirvana-inspired shirts that say “smells like cheese pizza” and beer cozies and BIC lighters with their branding, but they also crafted packaging for the takeaway cocktails. The name and ingredients guided much of the design for the bottles—and honestly, how many places are serving up a Pepperoni Negroni? “Jesse, the lead bartender, is creating some of the most unique beverages in Providence right now, so we wanted the labels to reflect what’s inside. We used our vibrant illustrative pattern and changed up the color palette based on each drink. The area which houses the cocktail name and information contrasts that with a more utilitarian style.”
Nostalgia is such a powerful force, particularly when it comes to pizza because it can transport us back to the parlors and hole-in-the-walls of our childhood. That’s why we see so many restaurants (and fast-food joints, honestly) wading into our sentimental 80s and 90s youth. But you also don’t want to create a carbon copy from a bygone era. You want those same warm, fuzzy feelings, but that should also feel completely new.
“We love the 80s and 90s pizza parlors and the culture from those decades,” Max admits. “Based on our tastes, the three of us curated that aesthetic to our liking. The illustrative pattern is a perfect example. We paired those nostalgic elements with icons from our area (Rhode Island) and more random “off-the-wall” items—a crystal ball, UFOs, playing golf on the moon. That whole idea was based on hand-drawn doodles from the owners. Our take on juxtaposing all these different elements together gives off a more contemporary feel, I suppose.”
No one wants to open a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic. While Pizza Marvin is strictly takeout at the moment, they’re betting big that the allure of wistfulness and a visual identity full of bygone vibes will keep customers coming back, even when they officially open their doors for sit-down dining.
For now, however, it’s a slice of salad pizza and a Dirty Marvini with a side of bold and playful branding to go.
All images by Maurisa Mackey and stylist Nadia Eisa.