What happens when men open a restaurant alone? Evidently, they “decorate” it only in primary colors and sports memorabilia, forgo such womanly accompaniments as serving dishes not made out of paper and make such masculine delicacies as hot dogs, pizza and hoagies. They make only hot dogs, pizza and hoagies. No need for such things as dishes, color schemes, napkins, ‘extras’ on the menu or coordinating furniture. Nope, let’s just make some guy food.
Such is the scene at The Pizza Man. A no-frills attitude is taken to another level here. The walls are royal blue on top and red on bottom. The only other things on the wall are Cub memorabilia- the Pizza Man is dubbed “a taste of Chicago” for it’s pizza and Chicago dogs. Please note, these are not complaints, merely observations. In fact, from the awkwardly composed interior to the total lack of salesmanship of the Pizza Man himself, it’s all oddly appealing. Zero pretensions about atmosphere creates a unique atmosphere.
The current owner and Pizza Man is not the original founder. He bought it 5 years ago after being the best customer of the first owner. As he explains “I’m from Chicago too, so he was OK selling it to me.” I’m not intimately familiar with Chicago-ian cuisine, but apparently the ability to make good Chicago dogs is a feat reserved for those with the proper birth rights.
Geographic snobbery aside, (it’s okay we all have it- would you eat barbecue in Florida? Only if you’re a fool) the new Pizza Man was the most charming thing about the place. Here is our conversation:
“Hi I’m Laura. I write food reviews for a website called Lost In Reviews.
“Oh. ….. You mean like on the internet?” (I was hoping he’d call it ‘the world wide web’, but that would be asking too much)
“Yes, exactly like that”.
“Oh. I hear people have been saying some nice things about us on the Internet.” Then he returns to the kitchen.
The dear man obviously had only a very fleeting interest in other people’s opinion of his food, the possibility of publicity for his business, or general ‘marketing plans’. He disappeared after that to cook our dogs himself. This total absence of contrivance is demonstrative of all operations of this restaurant- and was quite entertaining.
So the food. First, obviously, I am not a high brow foodie. Phallic symbols aside, I never met a hot dog I didn’t love (simmer down lesbians). I love street food and I’ve already made clear I find the exact opposite of ‘atmosphere’ endearing if not aesthetically pleasing. I believe it’s possible to eat with the taste buds alone. My taste buds were pleased.
The Pizza Man is apparently known primarily for his Chicago dogs. You can see why. It doesn’t get more authentic this side of the Chicago city limits. They’ve got all the fixings- ‘neon relish’, dill pickles, tomatoes, onions, celery salt and sport peppers. These give your dog a healthy kick and somehow all work together. Even my husband, who is normally squeamish about vegetables even in relish form, ate the whole thing. It’s GOOD. And it’s the only place like it in Kansas City.
I’d like to elaborate on how good the hot dogs themselves are but it seems a bit unseemly to discuss how they must have a healthy fat content, how the skin is perfectly crispy and the inside drippingly juicy. Hot dog cuisine does not lend itself to glitzy descriptions. The dogs at Pizza Man are all of those things and more, but let’s leave it at that. Us wiener aficionado’s don’t need much description thank you.
The other main fare at Pizza Man is the Italian beef sandwiches. You KNOW how I feel about steak and cheese on a bun, just see my Chartreuse Caboose review. Apparently, the Chicago-ians recognize genius when they see it in Philadelphia and cleverly rename a Philly Cheesesteak an Italian Beef. OK, I’ll go with it. YUM. Though not as saturated in Worcestershire sauce and salt as I prefer, the Italian Beef sandwiches hold their own. The beef (not steak remember), is tender and thin, the bun toasty and enough kick in the giardiniera to make you forget how much fat you’re actually consuming. Really fantastic.
You may notice that a review of the pizza at the Pizza Man has been conspicuously absent in this review. Yes, they serve pizza. Yes, I ate it. I’m a bit confused that it was thin crust, as opposed to the traditional Chicago deep dish, but hey, I wasn’t born there. It was good, but it wasn’t anything to write a review about. Get the Chicago Dog, get a load of the non-atmosphere and call it a day. That’s what the wiener would want.
The Pizza Man
10212 Pflumm Road
Lenexa, KS 66215
(913) 492-2116 Hours 11am-7pm
Menu available at: http://nopersonalbrowsing.com/pizzaman/
I give Pizza Man 4 “man-caves” out of 5