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Albero Cafe

23 Aug

The rise and fall of Bocconcini at Oliver and Central has paved the way for another Italian restaurant in its place. Albero Cafe recently opened in the vacant space to give Wichitans a new option for Italian food on the east side of town.

The interior and ambiance of Albero remains similar to Bocconcini. The open floor plan and large glass windows still make the restaurant louder than most. During peak hours it can be hard to carry on a conversation. There is a small patio, but it does not offer any reprieve from the noise as it sits ten feet from Central.

 

Italian Nachos: Epic Appetizer

Italian Nachos: Epic Appetizer

The menu at Albero has everything that you would expect from a typical Italian-American  joint  including salads, flatbreads, soups, paninis, and a number of classic pasta dishes. While they offer a variety of options, the menu is not as overwhelming as other Italian places in town.

We decided to start off with an appetizer order of the intriguing sounding Italian Nachos. They were billed as fried pita chips covered with lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncini, and a parmesan cheese sauce. What came out was a bountiful heap of indulgence. The pita chips were very crispy and resembled fried wontons. The veggies were tossed with an Italian vinaigrette and the parmesan sauce was

Parpardelle Pasta with Delicious Veggies

Parpardelle Pasta with Delicious Veggies

wonderfully addictive. This blue collar dish was amazing, but left you with a somewhat guilty feeling for having feasted on such opulence. A word of caution: This is a good sized dish and would be perfect for a party of 4 because it left Steph and I fairly satiated even before our main courses arrived.

Despite the fullness from the nachos, I enjoyed my parpardelle pasta. The ample serving of wide noodles was tossed with just the right amount of good cream sauce. The dish also included tomatoes, portabellas, and delicious whole roasted

A Little Chicken Penne Action

A Little Chicken Penne Action

garlic cloves. Steph’s chicken penne pesto was just alright. While the pesto sauce tasted fresh, there could have been more added to the dish.

Albero Cafe fills a void in the eastside Italian scene and does a decent job at it. The food is a touch upscale, but the prices are reasonable. In my opinion everyone in town should try the Italian nachos just to experience a little bliss. And for you oenophiles they have nice selection of wines.

Wichita Brewing Company and Pizzeria

6 Sep

Beer and pizza is a combination that most sane people can all agree is good. Whether it be frozen pizza and Keystone Light or a wood fired masterpiece paired with a handcrafted wheat beer, it’s hard to go wrong. With this in mind,  if one is going to open up a brew pub it would make good sense to have some type of pizza pies on the menu. Shockingly that is exactly what Wichita Brewing Company and Pizzeria has done. WBC&P is located way out there at 13th and Tyler and that is really my only excuse for not having visited this place sooner. It has been around since 2011 and has made a name for itself amongst those who claim to know stuff about beer.

Mmmm Craft Brews

Mmmm, Craft Brews

On our visit I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of brews offered. I believe there were ten different beers that were all brewed on-site. With this many to choose from, I had no choice but to go with a flight of four samplers. It was difficult to narrow it down, but I ended up ordering the Vanilla Porter, Half-Wit Wheat, 5:02 Amber, and the English Mild.  I was very impressed with each of the selections, however the Half-Wit was my favorite.  If you are looking for a rather unique brew the English Mild is served at a traditional temperature of 50 degrees. It was very light and malty.

If you ever get past the beer menu, WBC offers a nice selection of specialty pizzas as well as calzones, salads,  subs, and typical bar appetizers. Since this is a pizzeria the only logical conclusion was to order pizzas, so that is what we did. After some deliberation we ordered the Gregorian Feast and The Itis. The Gregorian featured Italian sausage, caramelized onions, garlic, mushrooms, and mozzarella. The Itis is one of the more unique pizzas in Wichita and features an obscenely long list of ingredients. It starts with the base crust then they add cream cheese, American cheese, Italian sausage,  and capicola ham. After that comes the NEXT crust which is smothered in pepperoni, bacon, mozzarella, and red sauce. There is no room for veggies on this beast of a pie.

Beware of The Itis

Beware of The Itis

WBC was fairly busy on the Saturday night we visited, so the wait for a foods was longer than usual. Our son was getting a bit anxious waiting for his grilled cheese and at one point assaulted our server with a plastic Easter egg. Eventually the food came out and everyone was happy. The Gregorian had a thin and crispy crust that was perfectly baked. It had plenty of sausage and cheese, although I would have liked to see portobella mushrooms instead of the un-sexy white variety. The only hang up with the pizza was the overly sweet sauce. I don’t mind some sugar in my pizza sauce, but this was a too much for my liking. However, it did not ruin what was otherwise a good pie. The Itis lived up to its hype. With that much meat and cheese you would think that it would be swimming in grease, but alas it wasn’t that bad. The same sweet red sauce was employed on this pizza, but with all the other ingredients it wasn’t quite as noticeable. While WBC’s pizzas were not the best I have had in Wichita, I would like to go back and try some of the other offerings that don’t have the sweet red sauce.

Besides having great beer and good pizza WBC also has one of the best restaurant logos in town. It features the famous painting of crazy old John Brown, but instead of a rifle and bible in his hands he holds two beer mugs.

http://www.wichitabrew.com/index.html

Wichita Brewing Co & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Ziggy’s Pizza

4 Feb

Over the last couple of years the Wichita pizza market has shed its humble Pizza Hut pie roots and started to offer a plethora of new options. From Sauerkraut to sunflower seeds, it’s all now available to the Wichita pizza connoisseur.

The "White Delight" was Certainly a Delight

The “White Delight” was Certainly a Delight

Ziggy’s Pizza is tucked away in Clifton Square Village on Douglas  between Hillside and Oliver. The tiny space has been a number of restaurants over the years, but it seems that after a year in business Ziggy’s has gained itself a loyal following. If you are claustrophobic or just haven’t bathed recently beware because it can get cramped inside the cozy restaurant. We visited during a WSU game and had to wait a few minutes for a table to open up. Luckily there are TVs on literally every wall, so you won’t miss a minute of the action. Outside they do have a nice shaded patio area that would be a good option when the weather allows.

The menu at Ziggy’s is fairly straightforward,

The Bacony Delight of "Meet Me at Ziggy's"

The Bacony Delight of “Meet Me at Ziggy’s”

besides pizzas they also have salads, toasted sandwiches, and generic appetizers. The only wrinkle is that the pizzas are served in one-size-fits-all rectangular form. They offer several specialty pies, plus the option to build your own. Each pizza is decent sized and could easily feed two adults. Ziggy’s also offers a small rotating list of craft beers on tap or for those that can’t handle the hard stuff there is Bud Light as well.

On our visit we ordered the White Delight and the Meet Me at Ziggy’s. The White Delight had a cream cheese base with plenty of mozzarella, green peppers, chicken, and bacon packed on top. The crust was nicely made and crispy, while the toppings all went well together. I especially liked the cream cheese layer, there was just enough to get the flavor without making the crust soggy. Meet Me at Ziggy’s is their version of the meat lovers and it came piled high with Canadian bacon, sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, and some lovely crispy bacon.  The only thing the pizza was lacking was enough sauce. I would have liked a bit more sauce to balance out the heavy-duty meatiness.

All in all we both enjoyed our pizzas at Ziggy’s. They are a solid addition to the pizza scene and their local-neighborhood-joint feel is another plus.

 
Ziggy's on Urbanspoon

River City Brewing Co.

14 Sep

Brewpubs are currently enjoying a great deal of popularity and success in the US, as more and more people opt for tasty craft beer paired with comfort foods . River City Brewery, located in the heart of Old Town on Mosley street, was one of the  first restaurants to open as part of the revitalization of Old Town that took place in the early 90s.

The interior of River City is a nod to the age of the building that houses it. Wooden floors and exposed brick make it feel like you have stepped back into Wichita’s cowtown days, that is of course until your eyes fix upon one of the several TVs or

Your Basic Mac’n’Cheese

the stainless steel brewing apparatus.   The menu at River City offers no surprises, it features salads, sandwiches, pizza, steak, mac’n’cheese, and burgers. The main attraction here are the several varieties of craft beer made in-house. There are 5 standard brews available year round as well as special brews and a Firkin Thursday event that offers unique and sometimes disturbing beer flavors.

On our visit, we both started off with the Harvester Wheat beer. It was a good American wheat that was comparable to some of the better wheat beers on the market. I also tried the Rock Island Red, which is River City’s take on the American amber ale. It was a decent tasting amber, although I preferred the Harvester Wheat over it .

For dinner I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Pizza. This pie panders to those who cannot get enough of the iconic Buffalo wings and must have them in pizza form as well. It comes with chicken tender pieces, the classic Buffalo sauce, mozzarella, and blu cheese. The only thing missing would be some celery sprinkled on top. Steph ordered a bowl of the broccoli mac’n’cheese. Despite a fairly crowded dining room, our food was delivered before I had a chance to finish my first beer. The pizza was served just as advertised, with generous toppings and a tangy Buffalo sauce with just the right amount of kick to it. The crust was crispy and tasted fresh. With a lot of stiff pizza competition in Wichita I would say this particular pie was about average. The pizza was good sized and I struggled to finish it all by myself. We were less impressed with the broccoli mac’n’cheese. The sauce was runny and not very cheesy and there was nothing done to jazz

The Buffalo Chicken Pizza

up the dish. It tasted fine, but was lacking anything to make it stand out from mac’n’cheese you could make at home.

We were lucky enough to have some live entertainment on the Friday night we visited in the form of two gentlemen and their acoustic guitars. The set started out with some promise, but after a medley of America songs and a valiant, yet unsuccessful attempt at Gimmie Shelter, I was rather eager for out check to arrive.

River City is a good place to sample some solid craft beers and enjoy a televised sporting event, but don’t go expecting to be blown away by the food.

River City Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

Picasso’s Pizzeria(Works of Art on a Doughy Canvas)

18 Apr

In the birthplace of Pizza Hut there are many places serving up pizza, but few of them sell New York Style by-the-slice(And no, Sbarro’s in the mall doesn’t count). The recently opened Picasso’s Pizzeria is changing that with their large selection of homemade by-the-slice-pizza. Located in the heart of Delano, ironically directly across Douglas from Pizza Hut, Picasso’s is doing their part to continue the oftentimes lost art of pizza making.

The Kansan: Ad Astra Per Pizza

The Great White: An Upgrade to the Cheese Pizza

The inside of the restaurant has a good pizza joint ambiance with its vintage brick walls, open floor plan, exposed ductwork, and obligatory TVs. Coupled with some solid rock’n’roll music being piped in it is a great environment to enjoy pizza. The menu at Picasso’s consists of by-the-slice and full size pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, and salads. There are several specialty pizzas(Listed as “Works of Art” on the menu) to choose from as well as an ample number of toppings for maximum pizza customization. If you are in the mood for pizza, which you should be if you are going here, ordering by-the-slice is the way to go unless you need to feed a sports team of some sort. Before you start ordering slices left and right be advised that they aren’t messing around with the size of the these slices. One or possibly two will be enough to satisfy most appetites. To further enhance your pizza experience Boulevard Wheat is offered on tap, in my opinion it is the perfect brew to go with pizza.

Steph and I were both hungry and decided to order 4 slices, much to the surprise of the cashier. We were aware of the ample size of our order, but welcomed the challenge. As for our slices we went with the Heart Attack,  Picasso,  Kansan, and Great White. Each order is made fresh, but since there were only a few other patrons on this particular day our food was out within minutes. The Heart Attack was your typical meat lovers pizza with Canadian Bacon, pepperoni, and sausage. The red sauce was very good and there was just the right amount of cheese on the slice. Next was the signature Picasso, a delicious treat that consisted of pesto, tomatoes, spinach, feta, and romano cheese. This unique flavor combination worked great on a slice of pizza. The Great White was a good twist on the boring old cheese pizza. This slice employed a garlic sauce with three different white cheeses: mozzarella, provolone, and ricotta.

The Heart Attack: Sign a DNR and Enjoy

Last but not least was the Kansan, another unique and excellent combination of red onions, sunflower seeds, blue cheese, and spinach. All four slices featured a thin crust that was crispy on the bottom yet remained chewy on top. Out of the four, the Kansan and the Picasso were our favorites. For those of you who don’t like to finish all the crust, take advantage of the honey packets on the counter because it goes great with any leftover crust pieces.

The Picasso: A Masterpiece

Unlike many other pizzas, Picasso’s maintains a good balance between crust, cheese, and toppings. You will not find pools of grease nor thick doughy crusts at this pizza parlor, just an abundance of great and unique pies. That is why I would move Picasso’s up to the top of the best pizza category into a three way tie with Il Vicino and Wichita Pizza Co.

Picasso's on Urbanspoon

Charlie’s Pizza Taco- Wichita KS

13 Dec

While driving around on the Westside with my brother-in-law,  he happened to overhear a radio advertisement for Charlie’s Pizza Taco and quickly decided that we needed to stop for lunch. I remembered reading about the opening of said establishment a couple of months ago and figured it was worth a try. Charlie’s Pizza Taco has been around since 1965 in Pratt, KS and in an effort to expand the pizza taco empire they decided to take on ICT. Charlie’s is located in an  ill-fated restaurant building on Tyler just south of Central and there they serve their pizza fusion cuisine.

Charlie’s is designed as a quick service eatery with a decent amount of seating in a rustic type of atmosphere ( By that I mean they may have gone a bit heavy on the weathered wood theme). The menu is simple, consisting of one page of strange sounding items such as the famous/infamous Pizza Taco, Pizza Log, Pizza Raft, Pizza Burger, and Pizza Pup. Not hungry enough and frankly rather intimidated by the Pizza Taco we ordered two Pizza Pups each. If you are thinking the above mentioned menu items might just be a bit too heavy for you, fear not a salad bar is an option instead of potato chips.

Within a few minutes our to-go order of pizza puppy goodness came out and we were on our merry way. Once in the car I flipped open my styrofoam box to reveal  large beef hotdogs that had been tenderly wrapped in slices of cheese pizza. With a nice puddle of grease pooling next to the mutant meat tube, the presentation was striking. The taste, however left something to be desired. The hot dog was good, but the pizza not so much. It just tasted like a ho-hum slice of pizza to me.

Despite my first experience with Charlie’s, I am willing to give it another chance. Perhaps the original Pizza Taco is the way to go or maybe the ham and cheese sandwich served on a pretzel bun. Ordering one of several beers on tap or bottle may be necessary as well to consume one of Charlie’s pizza creations. One thing I do know is that they should advertise on every Safe Ride vehicle out there because this stuff is the ultimate cuisine de inebriation. So the next time you are staggering through Wal-Mart trying in vain to find the pizza rolls, save yourself some trouble and go to Charlie’s.

Check out this link to their menu, your arteries will thank you later:
<a href="http://media.kansas.com/smedia/2011/11/14/11/24/1dO9O6.So.80.pdf“>

Charlie’s PizzaTaco on Urbanspoon

Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria- Wichita KS

6 Aug

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.

Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Wichita Pizza Company-Wichita KS (Home of the Taco Pizza and Other Awesome Food)

5 Feb

We were able to convince my finicky family to try out a new place this past Sunday. Phil had recently seen a review of the Wichita Pizza Company by Denise Neil in the Wichita Eagle. She gave it a high rating so we were eager to try it out. The restaurant is located at Harry and Webb in a strip mall right next door to Dairy Queen. When you walk in the door there is a large counter/bar area that opens to the kitchen and the majority of the tables are around the corner. The place is also decked out with flat screen TV’s-possibly too many. I counted 7 TVs in the small eating area we were in. The place isn’t huge but we didn’t have a hard time getting enough seats for our 12 person party. We just sat at separate tables next to each other. Before we get caught up in all the pizza talk, I must add that they also serve salads, calzones, and hoagies.

Phil and I previewed the menu beforehand and I was determined to try their Taco Pizza. We also wanted to try a traditional pepperoni. So we of course ordered one of both. Let’s start with the pepperoni. It was fantastic. Not greasy, the crust had some great flavor, plenty of pepperonis and cheese. I would rank it right up there with AJ’s and Knolla’s. As for the taco pizza, it was delicious. It  started with a base layer of refried beans, then lettuce, hamburger, tomatoes, and shredded cheese. This beautiful concoction was topped off with crushed nacho cheese Doritos. The Doritos may sound weird, but they bring a great crunch to the pizza. You have to go and try one of these! The only disappointing part was the sauce they brought out. We both were pretty sure it was a bottle of sauce from Taco Hell. And sure enough when they brought out extra “salsa” for our take home box, the salsa was in tiny little plastic packages-not Taco Bell’s though but very similar. If they would just actually use a real salsa it would make things much better. They could run around the corner to Felipe’s and grab a few gallons to go.

I asked the question if this place is better than Knolla’s and I have to say that yes it absolutely is. I hope this place will get the love it deserves and stays open. For anyone living close to Harry and Webb(or anywhere in Wichita) you now have several fantastic chain free options to choose from for dinner or lunch.

<a href="http://Wichita Pizza Co. on Urbanspoon“>

Pacific Coast Pizza – Wichita KS

22 Nov

Well it has been several days since we updated this blog. I apologize to all those who have been waking up every morning in anticipation of another masterpiece of blogging literature. Anyway on with the show.

After much family deliberation on Sunday it was decided we would subject everyone to the terrors of a new place. Steph and I have been to Pacific Coast Pizza once before, but were happy to be going again. PCP is located at 37th and Rock on the northwest side of the street. The interior is nice and open with an obscene amount of TVs tucked into every corner. There is also a full bar with seating. If you are looking for a laid back place to watch NFL football with the family this is the place to go. They have NFL Sunday ticket, so chances are your game will be on TV if you really need to watch Buffalo play Cleveland.

This time around I tried the Mojave pizza, which is a BBQ chicken type pizza. It was good, but not great. There was just something missing between the bbq sauce, cheese, and chicken. Steph was feeling adventurous and went with the simple pepperoni pizza. It was also good, but we were not blown away with it. The nice thing about PCP is that they have a nice selection of specialty pizzas to choose from. Although they are hit and miss, there are several that are really good. The mexican themed pizza is one of my favorites.  They also offer a s’mores desert pizza that looks really good.

While PCP probably does not have the best pizza in Wichita, they have an extensive menu of specialty pizzas that are a nice change from your ordinary pepperoni.

Pacific Coast Pizza on Urbanspoon

AJ’s Sports Bar

1 Oct

Steph and I recently had a strong and mutual craving for AJ’s pizza. AJ’s Sports Bar is located in the front of Northrock Lanes and has been a constant of pizza goodness since I can remember. I believe their pizza recipe has not changed over the last 20 years.

AJ’s is your typical sports bar. There have many large TVs and sports memorabilia adorned on the walls. A few pool tables are also available for your enjoyment. Thanks to Wichita’s smoking ban(we are big fans of this if you couldn’t tell)  AJ’s is much more enjoyable than it used to be. I typically would rather not have a side of Marlboro with my pizza.

The last couple of times that I have had AJ’s pizza were at bachelor parties, one of them being my own. Unfortunately due to circumstances out of my control I was forced to lay of f the AJ’s following my bachelor party after things went terribly wrong that night…

As far as food goes at AJ’s most of their menu is your typical bar offerings, but where they make their mark is with the pizza. The crust is thin, yet has a unique flavor, while the cheese is generously loaded onto the pie. One other reason that AJ’s pizza distinguishes itself from others is the way they cut their round pizzas into square pieces. On this particular night we decided to try the new super pepperoni pizza. We knew we were in trouble when the waitress warned us that it was rather greasy. It turns out the super pepperoni pizza consists of sliced pepperoni on top of the cheese and a hidden treasure of pepperoni bits beneath the layer of cheese. And yes it is greasy, but delicious. We both thought it was too greasy and would probably stick to the regular pepperoni next time, but it never hurts to try new things.

So AJ’s pizza is still good after all the years, although with some of the newer pizza places are better in my opinion.

NOTE: It is my understanding that the super pepperoni pizza will soon become illegal under the conditions of Obamacare. So you need to get in there before Jan 1st so you can try some greasy goodness.

A J Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

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