G.A. Benton: How long has this pizza shop been around?
Friendly Pizza Guy: In 2014, it’ll be 50 years.
G.A.B.: Wow, that’s impressive. How long have you worked here?
F.P.G. (unfolding a big grin): In 2014, it’ll be 50 years.
Talk about classic, huh? Yup, that’s what the justifiably beloved Panzera’s in Grandview is. Bonus: if you visit this enduring gem soon, you might still be able to enjoy its thin-crusted deliciousness on its Grandview Avenue patio. There, the juxtaposition between Panzera’s old-school charms and the bustle of 21st-century nightlife translates into an amusing vibe.
Open until the weather dictates it should close, Panzera’s awning-covered patio twinkles in the evening since its perimeter is strung by lights in the tricolors of the Italian flag. It seats about 30 on tables with red-and-white checked (of course) plastic covers. Oldies (of course, again) play out there and you can sip on cheap beer and/or wine bought inside the extremely small shop. Panzera’s also delivers and provides one teeny indoor table.
A large pizza here (a two-item model goes for $15.75) feeds about four people. Your neat-eating, perfectly-cooked-underneath pie will feature a judicious amount of sweet-tart sauce and singed cheese covering an attractively slim crust, so messiness shouldn’t be an issue. That nifty base — which gently puffs up in the middle — showcases a super-toasty edge and an addictive crispiness that seems to never end.
Half-sausage with onion and half-pepperoni with banana peppers is my default order here, and it’s consistently excellent. The clean-tasting, fennel-seeded and mild sausage is sliced like pepperoni; the latter are cupped and crispy. Very, very nice.
Like subs? Then opt for the aptly titled Panzera’s Monster ($7.75). Arriving on a crackly toasted hoagie roll, it’s a killer Italian torpedo (with zesty capicola, salami, pepperoni, banana peppers plus all the fixings) loaded with — and this is literally huge — a monstrously generous amount of sliced homemade meatballs slathered in the good house sauce. Those bold, black peppery meatball sheets are garlicky, tender and juicy.
With terrific, keep-the-tradition-alive grub like this, I look forward to eating at Panzera’s for at least another 50 years.