OK friends, this isn’t what I promised, but the Pizza Crusade kind of lost steam. We still visited several establishments, and I think we’ve come to a conlcusion of our favorites for different reasons. So I’ll summarize them really quickly. I know this deserves more time/service, but it’s what I’ve got, and I’ve been procrastinating other posts because this one is undone.
First, we’ve decided best overall (considering pizza, sauce, toppings, ambiance, service, etc.) is Ziggy’s. They have delicious pizza. And I mean delicious. Their service is great. And in the patio-worthy weather, their patio is awesome. It’s away from the road so it’s quiet. It’s in Clifton Square, which is kind of a neat area, and there’s plenty of seating. If you’re sitting inside, the bartop is a great place to be. Fantastic service. And I say that knowing most of the service I’ve received lately is awful. Come on, Wichita! But this service was better than average. Ziggy’s, I salute you! (Please send thank you in the form of pizza coupons. Just kidding! Worth the cost!)
Second place went to Bartelli’s. The reason Ziggy’s edged out wasn’t becuase they were head to head comparable, but because of Ziggy’s patio. I love patios. However, Bartelli’s does have a much more spacious dining room. This isn’t good or bad, simply more convenient on busier days. My one piece of advice, order your pizza “well done.” You get the real experience of their crust, and I’m telling you, it’s delicious!
Other places we visited:
Picasso’s Pizzaria – Left us underwhelmed. We visited on a Friday night in early fall. And it was sweltering. There weren’t many places to sit, and there were a couple of tables covered by stuf that should have been in the kitchen (unfolded boxes and whatnot). When we asked if we could sit at that table, sighs were given and eyes nearly rolled. This is what I mean. Service suckage. If we hadn’t already ordered, I think we both would have simply walked out. (Maybe that’s their schtick?) Anyway, the pizza was OK. Obviously, it’s pizza, it’s edible. But I didn’t love it. And the atmosphere was kind of… Well, I hate to say it, but “Delano,” if that’s fair to say. I only say that because after our frustrating pizza experience we decided to go across the street for a drink. In the midst of a drug deal (seriously) we weren’t served. For nearly 10 minutes. We DID walk out of there. I have no intentions of visiting Delano for a long time (this was fall, I haven’t been back). It’s not fair to judge all restaurants based on these two, but I get you think you’re hip. But I’ve never gotten that pretentious attitude. There are lots of places to dine and drink in Wichita. I don’t need the attitude.
We also visited Knollas on Rock Road. Knollas and Talliano’s suffered the dreaded “unattended child syndrome.” I go out to eat to relax and catch up with friends. And screaming children aren’t really my type of atmosphere. Both places had fine pizza. In fact, Talliano’s even offered to make us whatever type of pizza we wanted. I’ve heard Talliano’s is a good comparison to Gambino’s in Colwich (near top of my pizza list), but to me, it’s not quite the same. My Gambino’s comparison was always PO Boy on Lincoln (near Oliver, I think). Especially their pizza rolls. Their toppings are nearly identical. And you get quite a deal in one pizza roll. Generally two meals worth. I’m not far enough from Gambino’s to not drive there if I’m having a craving, but when I lived out east, I would hit PO Boy rather than anywhere else in town. I’m awarding PO Boy best pizza rolls in town. They’re not mini pizza rolls like Old Chicago. You order a pizza roll and it’s like a medium pizza, folded in thirds, envelope, style. Served with sauce. It’s worth it to buy a second sauce. I love their sauce.
Another crowd favorite is Pacific Coast Pizza. They win the award for “best lunch special.” They have a 2-topping pizza and a salad for $6.99. Youu can choose from quite the array of toppings and although they will upcharge you a bit, you can order the premium toppings or cheeses with the special. You also have choices on crust (white or rosemary wheat, which I love!), and lots of sauce options. And their salads aren’t just a run of the mill salad, either. You get tomatoes, onions, and peppers. It’s my favorite lunch special in town, actually! Pacific Coast also has a variety of specialty pizzas, which are also good. But I actually prefer the simpler pizzas at PCP because of their variety of choices of crusts and toppings. So they also get the Simplicity Without Being Simple award!
I’m also a huge fan of Defazio’s. Although when I go there, I find myself ordering food other than their pizza. They have quite a selection, but if you’re craving pizza, you won’t be disappointed. I prefer their supreme pizza – it takes . Do it. No matter what you do, don’t leave Defazio’s without ordering an Italian/house salad. You’ll thank me.
Another place I love, but don’t love the atmosphere unless I’m outside is Il Vicino. In fact, the last time we went to Il Vicino (on Rock Road), I was very frustrated with their slow service. It was over the lunch hour and there was no sense of urgency at the register or in service. We had to ask for boxes for our pizza. They always have good food, but Il Vicino get the “Roll The Dice, Sit on the Patio, And Only Go During Dinner” award. Worth it if you have plenty of time, and don’t mind a less urgent wait staff. And I always find the inside of Il Vicino kind of overwhelming because there aren’t any soft fabrics to absorb noise. However, if it’s nice out and you aren’t going to Ziggy’s, their patio is worth sitting on with a glass of wine. And maybe two more after you finish dinner. Only problem is, you can’t run a tab at Il Vicino, which also kind of ruins the atmosphere. But, still, great pizza. Excellent. Somteims the food really is worth the inconvenience!
Finally, Wichita Brewing Company. This place gets so many kudos from so many people. I’ve actually been four times, and haven’t ever had that great of service. The pizza is generally pretty good, but I am never dying to go back. Rather, I’m invited. So I’ll give them the, “I Don’t Get It But Apparently They’re Awesome” award. Because I think it’s worth mentioning how much others like them. They do have a gluten free crust I haven’t tried, but it’s a dollar more. So that’s worth mentioning.
To summarize, here are our award winners:
Overall Best Pizza: Ziggy’s
Best Patio Co-Winners: Ziggy’s and Il Vicino (on Douglas)
First Runner Up and Best Crust: Bartelli’s
Best Pizza Rolls: PO Boy Pizza
Best Lunch Special: Pacific Coast Pizza
Worth Waiting For Co-Winners: Il Vicino and Defazio’s
Best Salad: Defazio’s
Best Place To Drop Off Your Kids and Go Have A Beer Somewhere Else: Talliano’s and Knolla’s (on Rock)
Best Hipster Hangout: Picasso
Best Place I Don’t Really Get: Wichita Brewing Company
Where did we miss? I realize I wrote rather harshly about a few places, so I’m sure I’ve offended some people. My intent isn’t to offend. And Picasso’s was rude enough enough times that I had to write about it. While the children at Talliano’s (where I realize there’s a clown, but didn’t realize it before I went there) and Knolla’s (on Rock) were out of hand enough, that it must be an accepted practice. I get that parents want to relax and enjoy their meals, but there’s a point where your eardrums might burst. It’s no problem for me to skip these places until I have children I want to unleash on the world. But for now, they aren’t right for me, and others will appreciate knowing that.
And some pictures. I apologize if I don’t get the exact right name. If I’m unsure what to get, I often get the supreme pizza. Sometimes I’ll ask the employee what they like, but if they say, “Everything” then I don’t know what to try so I’ll get supreme.
Word of advice to pizza places: If you have a signature pizza, have your employees suggest that instead of “everything.” Even if it’s not their favorite, when someone says, “Everything is good” it feels like nothing’s great. Or it feels like a canned response. It’s even OK to say, “My favorites are…” and list off two or three things. Everything is no help!
That’s not to say everyone at these establishments below said “everything.” But just some feedback for when I feel a little overwhelmed by the menu (at Picasso’s, for example, where you’re standing in line).
Knolla’s Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Ziggy’s Supreme Pizza
Wichita Brewing Company – Supreme, half with jalapenos
Picasso’s – Supreme