Due to its convenient location Steph and I tried out Deli Bocco this week. Deli Bocco has been open for about a year on Central, just west of Hillside. Now I would not consider this area part of College Hill, but according to their website it is. Although this may be a moot point, I’m sure there are some people up there on Belmont street who would get a bit riled up if they knew such liberties were being taken with the established imaginary boundaries of their beloved College Hill neighborhood. But I’m just here to review a restaurant, so what do I know?
Bocco is a small place with an even smaller parking lot, so don’t expect to roll up in here with your Hummer. They have a simple dining area with table cloths made of bolts of fabric. There is also some eclectic original artwork scattered about the area, some of which appears to be for sale. One corner of the dining area is devoted to Native American and Western artwork and also contains various cookbooks. The menu consists of the three S’s of deli fare: Salads, soups, and sandwiches. They also have a marker board with several daily specials as well as the current homemade ice cream flavors. Just to clarify things, even though this is called a deli, don’t go in expecting to buy potato salad and prosciutto. They do not sell any deli items to the public.
I went with the BLT sandwich with a side salad, while Steph opted for the roast beef with tomato bisque. My BLT was very good and for the price it was a decent amount of food. The sweet pepper bacon and foccacia bread really made the sandwich. As for the side salad, I’m pretty sure they forgot the balsamic dressing. Luckily the lettuce was fresh and the tomatoes had been lightly salted, so I was able to get by. Steph and I both enjoyed the roast beef sandwich as well. It came all jazzed up with caramelized onions, sharp cheddar, and more delightful foccacia bread. The tomato bisque soup was fine, although probably not as good as Tanya’s. Even though they are known for their tiramisu dessert, we just went with a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie.
So the next time you are close to the “College Hill Neighborhood” and are just about to pull into Panera, remember you have another option. Although they may not have an extensive menu, they do their food right and that is the most important thing.
When it comes to BBQ joints in Wichita, Jet Bar-B-Q is almost always in the discussion. Probably because it has been around in several incarnations for around 30 years, making it one of the more established names in BBQ or Barbeque or Bar-B-Que or Barbecue in Wichita. Although you may not have known it, chances are you have probably eaten some of their Q at a catered event around town. That was the case for me until a few days ago. I finally made it down to 3rd and Wabash to check out the actual restaurant and feast on some good Que. What sets Jet apart from the other places is their unique location, an old firehouse. This building allows them to offer a drive thru where one pulls their car into the firehouse garage, follows the yellow line, gives their order and gets the Q and then proceeds to points beyond with car full of smoky delight.
Dine-in customers enter a side door and are quickly met with a small menu and counter at which to order. On the menu are the typical BBQ fare with meat choices of brisket, sirloin, pulled pork, pork ribs, turkey, and hot links. Sandwiches as well as combo platters are offered with traditional side dishes of baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad. When visiting a Q place I like to go with the combo platter so I can sample two or three different meats. Unfortunately, they were out of ribs, so I went with the brisket, pulled pork, and beans. There are a few tables inside of the garage area for those brave enough to battle warm temperatures, breezy conditions, and car exhaust. For the price of $7.50 I got a good amount of pork and brisket as well as two pieces of bread, a cup of sauce, and a cup of beans. I was impressed with how moist the pulled pork was after sitting in a warmer for the last couple of hours. Typically pulled pork will dry out quickly, but Jet adds some sauce to keep it moist during service. Although I typically do not like pre-sauced meat, this was good because it was not drenched in sauce and had a subtle hickory flavor. The brisket was tender and moist with a very strong hickory flavor. This was probably some of the smokiest meat I have ever tried and I liked it. The flavors were very simple and let the meat stand out.
Overall I was pleased with my experience at Jet, their less is more approach to BBQ was refreshing. Besides serving good Q, Jet’s unique location makes it a place for anyone who is interested in smoked meats and firehouses to check out. There is plenty of nostalgia throughout the building to entertain you while eating. A certain neon pig sign caught my eye and I immediately began to imagine how great one of those would look in my house.
To commiserate the last day of summer break Steph was in the mood for sushi, so we headed to Hana Cafe. Hana is located in Old Town Square which happens to be a great place for chain free restaurants. You have Hana, Imbiss, Sabor, Caffe Moderne, and Lucca all in one convenient location. This was our first time visiting Hana since its recent renovation and we were impressed with the changes, although the entrance looks like you are going into a dance club.
As you enter the normal glass door from the sidewalk you find yourself in a small entry area with a windowless door that must be passed through in order to feast on Asian delights. Upon entering we were met with an upscale looking interior with a bar and divided dining area. They had clearly done quite a bit of expansion and renovation to the former space. We were seated in one of the oversized booths and began our menu deliberations.
We decided to try one of their Korean specialties, Bi Bim Bap as well as some maki sushi. Hana cafe offers a “bento box” lunch special which is like the Japanese version of a frozen dinner except that it’s not frozen and it doesn’t taste like steamed socks. You simply pick from one of several maki rolls and it comes served in a partitioned box that includes and egg roll, salad, and steamed rice. We ordered a shrimp tempura roll with our bento box and tried a crunchy California roll as well. The shrimp tempura roll was fine, but nothing spectacular. The crunchy Cali roll was very good served with a sweet sauce drizzled over the top. The best part of the meal was the Bi Bim Bap, which is a Korean dish with rice, eggs, spinach, carrots, sprouts, and your choice of meat. It is also served with a bowl of moderately spicy sauce on the side. This sauce must be mixed in with the rest of the food to get the full experience. I really liked the Bi Bim Bap, but Steph thought it was a bit too spicy for her.
Wichita has an ever growing list of sushi places and I think that Hana is one of the better ones. They do not have as large a selection as other places, but their prices are reasonable and their proximity to delicious gelato at Caffe Moderne are big pluses. Don’t forget about their Korean dishes because they are solid choices as well. So the next time you are preparing for a wild night of clubbing, just head toward all the pretty lights of Old Town Square and check out one of the aforementioned chain free places.
Last week marked this blog’s one year anniversary. Over the past year we have reviewed about 70 locally owned restaurants, seen our readership and blog hits jump significantly, gotten some love from Denise Neal and Tanya Tandoc, and probably made some people wonder what kind of recreational drugs I take.
I think we have done a good job evangelizing the great local food options that Wichita has to offer and I hope that our popularity will continue to grow. There are still plenty of local places for us review so we will continue to press on in our second year.
Many thanks to all of our followers for their readership and comments!
What object possess the power to get us to drive all the way over to the west side of town at 8pm on a Thursday night just for pizza? A gift card of course! While flipping through our gift card stash the other night we happened upon one from Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria and decided we would give it a try. Avivo is located in New Market Square at 21st and Maize. It is a bit hard to find because the actual building is not very visible from Maize, but once you get into the shopping center just drive around aimlessly for several minutes and you will probably find it. There were few customers present when we walked in about 30 minutes before they closed. The setup at Avivo is very similar to Il Vicino, another brick oven pizza place in Wichita. You order your drinks and food at the counter and then seat yourself. Inside Avivo there is ample table seating as well as a bar and patio seating. Much of the kitchen is visible to the patrons so you can watch your pie get shoved into the large “wood fired oven” they use.
Besides a wide selection of Italian and American influenced personal sized pizzas, Avivo offers salads, pastas, and panini. We both decided to try pizzas on this visit. I went with the Pizza Con Salsiccia (Pizza with Sausage), which consisted of sliced Italian sausage, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Steph went with the Quattro Formaggi (Four Cheese), which included alfredo sauce, mozzarella, provolone, feta, and parmesan. I was a bit disappointed with the end result of my pizza. I would have liked a bit more sausage or perhaps larger chunks to spice up the pie. The pizza crust itself was alright, but not anything spectacular. The caramelized onions were on the other hand were very sweet and well done. The portion size was reasonable and left me feeling satisfied although I do wish I had tried a side salad. We both enjoyed Steph’s selection better. The alfredo sauce was a nice touch that added creaminess to the basic cheese pizza.
Although I was not blown away with the pizza I had at Avivo, I am willing to give it another try. With their expansive menu there has to be something there that will suit my fancy. The next time I am way out west checking out the Eddie Bauer outlet store I might just swing by.