The bright lights of Chippendale’s Regent Street servo aren’t exactly flattering, especially at 1am. But beyond the petrol bowsers, Manny’s Pizza Diner is a glowing, neon-lit late-night food oasis.
“Coffee. Pizza. Philly Steak. Hot dogs,” says a sign, an enticing promise of the type of food you often succumb to late on a weekend night.
And many people seem to be succumbing. Last Saturday night (or maybe it was Sunday morning?) patrons mingled outside, some sitting on the ground propped up against the tiny, white-tiled roadside joint, enthusiastically chowing down on cheesy goodness.
Manny’s replaced an average-looking Malaysian spot and is most definitely different from owner Evan Hansimikali’s former up-market Double Bay eatery, Pink Salt – which is exactly the way he wants it to be. “It’s nice to be part of a fun environment,” he says. “People come in, they have a chat and a laugh – it’s great to talk to people.”
Hansimikali wanted to create a neighbourhood joint – one that could send you off in the morning with a coffee (it opens at 7am on weekdays) and welcome you home late at night, perhaps tipsy, with a tasty bite to eat. That bite comes in the form of thin-crust pizza and the all-important Philly cheesesteak.
For those who have not had the pleasure, a Philly cheesesteak is a mass of thinly sliced beef and melted cheese served on a hoagie (a long, flat bread roll). Manny’s take has been slightly adjusted for Sydney palates – it’s more fresh than the typical American version, made with grass-fed Scotch fillet – but still contains the classic add-ons of American cheese, green capsicum, and sautéed onions. There’s also a chicken parma version and a vegetarian option with eggplant and provolone.
“I wanted Manny’s to be a Philly cheesesteak place, but with the late-night venues around here it [also] made sense to do pizza by the slice.”
The pizza dough is made daily and allowed to rise for 48 hours before cooking. This creates a light but sturdy base to support the house-made tomato sauce and generous toppings. The pizza menu is varied, with a healthy number of vegetarian options, plus a vegan potato and rosemary number. (Hansimikali roasts the spuds in the oven before popping them on top of the base along with vegan cheese.)
For meat-eaters there’s the Waikiki (shaved double-smoked leg ham, pineapple, mozzarella), the Philly Pizza (Scotch fillet beef, green capsicum, Spanish onion, mushroom, provolone, mozzarella, aioli), and a pepperoni pie (pepperoni, Spanish onion, black olives, mozzarella).
Also available are the ever-popular chicken poppers (with 14 herbs and spices – two more than The Colonel, Hansimikali tells us), loaded fries and a selection of hotdogs. Everything you could want in a late-night, calorie-laden feast.
Manny’s Pizza Diner
66 Regent Street, Chippendale
(02) 9698 3526
Mon to Wed 7am–11pm