November 16, 2021


It’s Friday evening. I’m beat, the sun is down, and I look up to a sky filled with bright, twinkling stars. I’m out of the Buffalo city lights and off the beaten path. The November air is crisp as I walk down a dark and industrial Chandler Street toward the Tappo Wood Fired Pizza x Thin Man Brewery restaurant I have heard raved about but hadn’t yet experienced. My friends in Buffalo are either out of town or working late shifts, so I’m riding solo. I’m tired and seeking something low-key with solid food and quality beer in a casual and relaxed environment.

I walk through the doors of 166 Chandler Street in the Black Rock neighborhood north of downtown. I’m greeted by a chalkboard sign letting me know I can seat myself, and I find that the restaurant is very well-attended. The physical space is substantial and cavernous with a heady industrial feel—high ceilings and everything of concrete. Polished concrete floor, large concrete pillars, concrete walls, concrete ceiling. Fight Club could have been filmed here.

Everyone is dressed casually, and I don’t stick out like a sore thumb in flannel (whew, I can relax now). The air is filled with conversation and laughter amidst the intoxicating smell of wood fired pizza dough—my mouth begins to water. I am hungry. I head for the bar and find one empty stool, as if it’s been waiting for me. I saddle up. A local band is getting ready on a raised section to my right, overlooking the large open restaurant space.

The beer selection is all Thin Man brews, and I realize I can’t go wrong here. Of the 16 taps, nine are IPAs. A Texas Brown Ale, a collaborative brew with Strangebird out of Rochester, catches my eye and I order one. The beer arrives in front of me at 7 p.m. sharp, just as the bassist starts jamming on (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones.

The wood fired pizza options total 13, and every pie I watch roll out of the kitchen looks carefully crafted and fantastic. There are plenty of other food options on the menu, but I see nothing but pizza around me. I eye the Buffalo Chicken Pizza on the menu and end my search. There was nothing left to peruse; I put in my order with a bartender.

As I wait, I sip my beer which turns out is much different than I had anticipated. It’s lighter than other brown ales I’ve enjoyed, and contrary to what the Stones might say, I have found satisfaction. I listen to the band (they’re pretty good!) and watch some of Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace playing on all four of the big TV screens as subtitles of Jar Jar Binks speaking with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (i.e. Liam Neeson) scrawl across the monitor. This is the first time I read Jar Jar Binks speak. The atmosphere, the aroma, the band, the movie—my interest is piqued.

I also notice the Skee-Ball machines, dart boards, and foosball tables in the back corner. A nostalgic feeling rushes over me, and I wish a friend had come along so we could play some Skee-Ball. Maybe next time. The beer is good, but I know it won’t be enough to keep me coming back since I live within walking distance of the Thin Man on Elmwood Avenue.

And then the pizza comes. Oh my, the pizza comes. A thin pie and crust that is so perfectly crisp on the outside and super doughy on the inside. I take one bite and I am filled with amazement—a hearty layer of chicken wing dip beneath a sea of cheddar cheese topped with fresh slices of mozzarella. It is deliciosio (chef’s kiss)! I surprise myself by not being able to finish it all, so I box the two remaining slices to go.

I walk out of the restaurant as the band is still jamming with a smile on my face, a full stomach, and lunch for the next day. The beer was solid, as most Thin Man brews are for me, but the Tappo wood fired pizza is what will bring me back, along with the Skee-Ball machines and even the Jar Jar Bink subtitles. Overall, a memorable and unique experience.

I could have easily thrown on my sweats and called it a Friday night at home. I’m happy I didn’t. I’ll be back soon Tappo x Thin Man!

Tappo Pizza:

Thin Man Brewery: