Best Old-School Pizza Experience

Pantera's Pizza

There are no stuffed-crust options, no cheesy breadsticks, no be-fudged monstrosity at Pantera's Pizza. There is a deep wooden bench the length of the front window where you wait for your order, right near the charity gumball machine. For entertainment you can read the current Cardinals schedule, affixed to the wall near said gumball machine — unless it's hockey season, when you can ponder the Blues schedule. In either season, the results of each game are noted in the date box, with monthly W-L totals tallied neatly for your convenience. A TV set out of view behind the counter likewise broadcasts only baseball or hockey. The small staff — all adults — joke with each other while they work on your pizza. Sure, they could make the "Hunk," Pantera's cake-like deep dish pizza (which is the size of a Chrysler Cordoba), even though it's not on the menu and hasn't been for years — but the ovens aren't set for it, so it might turn out a little burnt or a little soft. "Albert's the only hunk we need," someone laughs as El Hombre strokes an RBI double on the TV. The pizza — Pantera's original crust, please — is always a home run. A zip in the sauce, heavy on the toppings, slightly chewy crust and the perfect sheen of grease glistening on every slice. It ain't fancy, but it's damn good. Just like every pizza you had when you were a kid.

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