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P&M Pizza in Arnold delivers the classic goods

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
(From left) P&M Pizza owners Dawn and Phil McKinley hold the Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks and a thick crust Sicilian Pizza, and their son, a server, Craig, holds the Original P & M Pizza and a Meatball Roll at their Arnold restaurant.

Background

Robert Irvine, host of the television show “Restaurant Impossible,” always tells the owners he is trying to help, “You can't be everything to everybody.”

By specializing in only different styles of pizza, P&M Pizza owners Phil and Dawn McKinley have developed a successful business that would make Irvine proud.

P&M Pizza was started in 1947 and was run primarily by Lefty and Mooney Martz for more than 50 years.

The pizza shop was known for its iconic and secret multi-cheese pie with sauce on a thin crust, accented with cornmeal. It developed an almost cult-like following.

The restaurant was sold in the 1990s, closed in 2004, and reopened in '08 by the McKinleys.

With Dawn McKinley bringing 15 years of food-service experience, and husband, Phil, contributing business acumen and handyman skills, the restaurant has seen a steady increase in business.

Urban legend has it that Phil McKinley found the original P&M recipe behind a wall while he was remodeling in 2007.

“Two things I will never tell — what the blend of cheeses are — and where I actually obtained it,” he says with a laugh.

Atmosphere

The restaurant has a full bar with seating for 20, five televisions, and seating for up to 75 customers.

The stamped-tin ceiling has been preserved, and bamboo flooring and a painted panel with photos of sports stars and Hollywood celebrities provides a pleasant ambience. Church pew-like oak booths that seat four line one wall and make for a cozy atmosphere.

Diners who recall the P&M from years ago will take note of a tapestry of John Kennedy displayed on one wall as a tribute to former owner Mooney Martz, a lifelong Democrat who idolized the late president.

Menu

The mainstay of the business remains the Original P&M pizza ($9.75, large).

We tried one with pepperoni, then one with banana peppers mushrooms and bell peppers, and also the New-York-style Ultimate which was loaded with garlic, basil, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and bacon.

All were perfectly baked. Our crew waxed nostalgic at the pies and decided opting out of too many toppings allows patrons to reclaim that legendary “stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth taste.”

We also sampled a Pepperoni Roll with cheese ($2.35), and a Meatball Roll ($3.25). Both are made with homemade dough, generous amounts of meat, and are crispy on the outside, hot and moist on the inside and hold up well to the baking.

The Meatball Roll tastes like wedding soup on a roll and the mini-meatballs blend with the cheese for a savory sensation.

We tried the Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks ($3.50), and they are a bargain for the price, offering quality and quantity. The flatbread sticks — covered in mozzarella, garlic, olive oil and parsley — were delightful.

We also sampled the New York Thin Hand-Tossed Pizza ($10.75 large). This is a traditional pizza, and the rich, red sauce and freshly grated mozzarella combine fantastically.

We loosened our belts and took on the Sicilian Pizza ($16.95) just introduced. It is a thick-cruste New York style pizza, and has been in development for years. This 18- by 14-inch rectangular pizza is loaded with mozzarella cheese and red sauce, and creates a tasty combination. It's extremely filling.

The thick crust tastes just like grandma's homemade bread. We took note there were no crusts left on our plates. This pizza heats up just fine in the oven for leftovers the next day.

Every offering at P&M starts with handmade dough and hand-tossed pizza shells.

“We don't use frozen dough or cheap cheeses like many of the chain pizza shops,” Phil McKinley says. “Our aim is not to be the cheapest, but to give the best quality.”

Eric Felack is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4695 or efelack@tribweb.com

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