Every grown man has been influenced one way or another by the story of a puppet called Pinocchio. It’s a moral tale which teaches us that lying your way through life can only result in unfavourable consequences. What many people don’t know however, is that as well as telling the odd porky, Pinocchio along with his mate Peter Pan, also set up a chain of fast food outlets to feed the insatiable junk-food appetites of Suburban Manchester.

My favourite of them all is Pinocchio’s in Urmston. It may only be at the end of my road but I always find the demeanour of the delivery driver most affable. And I would extend that sentiment to the serving staff too. They’ve had to take some abuse over the years from the Mambos mob but have always handled themselves with decorum and a large pizza paddle for protection. A big shout-out must go to Terry Napkin (he looks like the bloke off The Really Wild Show) who has been doing magical things with an elephant’s leg for as long as I can remember.

I’m not sure there’s an item on the Pinocchio’s menu I haven’t eaten. As a young boy I devoured many a garlic bread with cheese on street corners, often wondering why I was the only lad who didn’t manage to pull.

As I grew bigger so too did my appetite. Not satisfied with the ten minute lead time for my fodder, I used to always have a piece of ‘chicken while you wait’. By the time I’d finished chomping on the breast (never been a leg man), my order would be ready.

As with any great food establishment, menus evolve and the KFC-style chicken kicked the bucket. But along came new additions to fill the void. My love of the humble hash brown blossomed and no order is ever complete without ‘hash browns for the walk home’. I like mine dead dead crispy with lashings of salt and vinegar. I have made it my quest in life to find a takeaway that does them better but so far I’m failing, happily.

Every week at Thursday Club I partake in this hash brown ritual. My issue now is that I’m becoming far too proficient and have usually eaten them before I’ve reached Pancake Corner (unfortunately closed at that time of the evening). But forward thinking means that it’s not long till I’m home tucking into half a hot shot pizza, a mixed kebab and some peri-peri chicken wings (free when you spend £15). You’ll note that I only have half a pizza and kebab. I’m not an animal.

Then there’s the donner wrap which for me is at the forefront of revolutionary gastronomy and was actually invented by my mate and fast-food pioneer, Crusty. Bored with the tried and tested pitta and naan bread offering, he asked for his donner meat on a wrap et voila, the donner wrap was born. It now has its righteous spot on the menu and at £3.40 with salad and hot sauce, it’s cheap as chips. A real bobby dazzler.

I’d say that the donner meat at Pinocchio’s is as good as any I’ve had. But I understand that it’s not to everybody’s taste. So for the social misfits amongst us there’s a whole host of other delights on offer: burgers, chicken, onion rings, pizzas and a personal favourite, the create-your-own calzone (with clandestine donner on the inside, obviously).

I would walk from Timbuktu (or the nelly) in my flip-flops to christen my lips with Pinocchio’s hot sauce. Different to many of its counterparts, it’s a yogurt sauce but don’t be deceived by this detail – it still packs a mighty punch and is the perfect companion to those leftover pizza crusts. If you’re feeling really brave, you can try the tomato-based red hot sauce. Just make sure you’ve put a bog roll in the freezer.

Now Pinocchio’s does have its foibles. It has a pizza called ‘Hawaiian’ which contains fruit. The dirty bastards. And it doesn’t always serve perfect pizza. They have a tendency to undercook them so when I say well done, it’s an order rather than a compliment.
Where compliments are concerned, there can be none greater than saying Pinocchio’s is my go-to takeaway. With a food hygiene rating of 5, it’s uber-clean, cheap and very tasty (with or without the beer goggles).

Every week when I give them a call and hear the phrase “Good evening Pinocchio’s”, something of mine grows by an inch or so. And I’d be lying if I said it was my nose.

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