As an adult, the drive down is more about trying to beat the traffic, less about trying to smell the ocean. The Ferris wheels don’t seem nearly as big, the rigged boardwalk games no longer worth playing. Dippin’ Dots, as it turns out, is not the future of ice cream, while hermit crabs are nothing more than giant bugs with claws. Who knew?
But although some things change, some things, as the saying goes, stay the same. Ocean City’s Manco & Manco pizza has, mercifully, stayed the same. Exactly the same.
Shore pizza is an intensely personal choice, and this isn’t meant to win new fans or change made-up minds. If Manco & Manco’s thin-crust slice never did it for you, it won’t now. If you thought it was too greasy as a kid, you’ll know it’s too greasy now. If you don’t yet understand the transcendent power of that tangy sauce followed by an icy birch beer, the time has passed.
But if you’ve been waiting all year — or, God help you, multiple years — for a slice? Fear not: From the charred, bubbled crust to the sea-salty cheese, it’s as good as you remembered. While the line to the water slides might seem ridiculous as an adult, waiting in line for Manco’s remains a privilege for those of us who grew up on the good stuff.
In theory, Manco’s shouldn’t have stood the test of time. Thanks to Philly’s pizza renaissance, new artisan pies are popping up weekly, boasting water imported from secret Italian springs and mozzarella hand-pulled by hipster elves. As for the federal tax evasion charges against Manco’s owners, well, that’s big news in Ocean City, where Surf Mall shoplifters make the front page.
But that’s the funny thing about magic — it doesn’t play by the rules, and it never grows old.