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58. Pizza Man

Classification: Traditional

Location: Fridley, Minnesota

I've mentioned before that one of my ideals is to have a local "go-to" pizza in the neighborhood as a trustworthy failsafe that's suitable for all occasions. Shortly after we were married, my wife and I settled into an apartment that had such a place, literally on the grounds of the complex. Pizza Man was located in a small strip mall on the northwest corner of a multi-building campus, and although I don't recall ever doing so, we could have walked over to pick it up. But it is really getting absolute maximum value from your local place when it's so convenient (and inexpensive) that you'd be a fool to NOT get pizza almost every night. Although I didn't realize it at the time, Pizza Man already boasted a small collection of restaurants in the northern section of the city, and it's now blossomed into 11 locations in two states. Not exactly a super-franchise, but certainly there's plenty of evidence to suggest that it's a successful enterprise. We enjoyed many evenings at our tiny apartment having very good delivery pizza. But there was a hidden cost.

Pretty much without fail, and with the accuracy of a Swiss watch, both of us would make a beeline for the refrigerator around 3:00 a.m. This pizza made us so thirsty, it was like we were re-enacting a Gatorade commercial. It was that savory blend of seasonings, salt, and/or spices that made the pizza was so intoxicating during the act of consumption, and we learned to live with this wee-small hours inconvenience. In fact, we started to anticipate it by making certain our fridge was pre-loaded with plenty of chilled water, knowing that it would act as a lifeline to help us through the rest of the night. It eventually became a seamless part of the ritual, an offshoot as necessary and natural as showering or brushing your teeth.

This square-cut pie was a nice combination of crust, sauce and cheese, and the toppings always satisfied. We no longer live nearby, so it's been several years since we've visited Pizza Man, but I look forward to giving it another go, as long as the refrigerator is stocked. (7 of 10 stars)

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