Posts tagged ‘pizza’
Sutera’s has been around for more than thirty years. First in the West Bottoms, then in Brookside, and now on Rainbow Blvd. It’s a family friendly, neighborhood joint, suitable for drinks while watching sports on TV, or for a full meal in the dining room.
Sutera’s menu states that although ” we didn’t invent pizza, we merely perfected it!”, but after sampling it, I’m not sure I agree. I ordered a large cheese pizza and my mouth started watering when it was placed in front of me. There was tons of cheese on it and it was nicely browned and bubbly. The crust looked thin, and it was, but unfortunately it wasn’t crisp. The pizza looked done on the top, but lifting up a piece, I noticed that the bottom hadn’t browned at all. And though there was plenty of sauce, it was the same as the sauce in the lasagna and on the rigatoni. I’d rather have a real pizza sauce, not pasta sauce on my pizza, especially since I didn’t love the taste.
Two of my dinner companions had the lasagna–one with cheese and one with meat. Though it looked good coming to the table, neither of them raved about it. Too much of that same sauce and not enough flavor in any of it.
Though the food didn’t impress me, there’s a reason Sutera’s has been around for so long. It has a comfortable vibe and, looking around the dining room, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Whatever they are doing, it seems to be working.
Based on an expanded menu, I decided it was time to revisit Blue Grotto, the very popular pizza spot in Brookside. When it first opened, the menu contained a few salads as well as the star attraction, but it now has an interesting list of small plates and a large number of $5 antipasto selections as well.
It’s hard not to get pizza, so we skipped the bruschetta, the lamb sliders and the gnocchi and roasted salmon. Though tempted by the glazed pork belly, we took our server’s suggestion to try the arugula and garlic salad, with artichokes, almonds, goat cheese and roasted garlic vinaigrette. It was fresh, crunchy and the dressing had a good bite. It was much more successful than the Baby Octopus small plate with mussels, calamari, mint and chiles on arugula, which was sounded good but was, frankly, tasteless.
At Happy Hour, pizzas can be made half-sized at half the price. While this does not present a financial savings, it does give diners an opportunity to sample more pizzas on the menu. Four of us tried four–the Caprese, the Margherita, the Salsiccia and the Quattro Stagioni. The crusts on each were chewy and flavorful, and the toppings plentiful. No complaints, but I do prefer Pizza Bella, Spin and Jake’s Bella Napoli. Their pizzas just seem to have more oomph, and the crusts on the Pizza Bella pies just can’t be beat in Kansas City. Just look at the pictures of those other pizzas, they tell the story. (To be fair, Blue Grotto’s are mini-pizzas, but I didn’t think the full-size ones tasted appreciably different.)
On a Monday night, the restaurant was pretty empty, but I like the look of the place. They also have a great outdoor dining space, complete with a fire pit and comfortable seating.
Liquor laws in Kansas are still a bit antiquated, so Kansas restaurants can’t offer the traditional Happy Hour specials, but that doesn’t stop them from finding a way to give their customers a good deal. Check out North‘s “mid-day menu from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. All items are $6 or under and include their regular pizzas and salads, even the signature zucca chips.
The restaurant uses these deals to drive traffic–why not oblige? Same great food, no lines.
Spin is one of those places that would be easy to frequent on a regular basis. Want a quick salad at lunch? Go to Spin. Pizza before a movie or basketball game? Go to Spin. Gelato after the movie or game? Spin. Can’t decide where to go? Spin. You get the idea. It’s easy to get in and out, it’s reasonably priced, you can have a different salad and/or pizza combo every time and there’s a location near you, no matter where in the metro you reside. Did I mention that Spin makes awesome pizza? Maybe not the blistering, bubbly crusts of my Pizza Bella dreams, but thin and chewy, with high quality toppings.
The menu is on the wall to peruse while you wait your turn to place an order with the cashier. I like the small pizza and salad combo, which could formerly only be ordered at lunch–now it’s available at dinner as well. My favorites? For starters, the Sonoma salad with blood orange vinaigrette, goat cheese, apples and candied pecans, though I can easily be talked into the spinach salad. I love the #13, a white pizza with caramelized onions, fig marmalade and Gorgonzola. (You can tell from the picture how much I enjoy it–I took a piece before I remembered to snap the picture!). The pizza is normally made with goat cheese, but I prefer the pungency of blue cheese.
Twenty wines picked by the experts from Cellar Rat are displayed up front so you can study them while you are in line. The menu suggests wines that pair well with the signature pizzas, which takes the guesswork out of the selection. The other plus is that the wines are all under $20 a bottle.
Once you place an order, your work is done. All that’s left is to pick out a table, where a server will find you (by the number on the wood block the cashier gives you), and do some people-watching until your salad is promptly delivered. The pizza will follow at a proper pace. (At lunchtime they are delivered on one plate to hasten your return to work.) The Lozoffs (remember Bagel and Bagel?)are experienced restaurant operators, they’ve got this thing figured out.
Pizza Bella serves incredible pizza pies baked in a 700 degree certified Italian wood-fueled oven. In fact, “awesome” is the only word to describe the chewy, thin, puffy, perfectly charred and beautifully adorned creations. My favorites are the Potato, with gorgonzola and grilled radicchio; and the Biancoverde, with mozzarella, ricotta, and romano cheeses, topped with a mound of lightly dressed arugula. Every bite is nirvana and I alternate between savoring the moment and plotting my return to have one of these pizzas again.
I have come to understand that it doesn’t really matter what ingredients top the pizza. The crust is the key and there’s nothing remotely like this one elsewhere in Kansas City. Quizzing owner Rob Dalzell on his methodology, it’s clear that he knew exactly how he wanted his dough to taste and feel. Amazingly, he told us that it took eighty tries to get it right. His addition of rye flour to the basic flour, water, yeast and salt mixture sets it apart, and he achieves the proper texture with a wet dough that almost needs to be poured out of a bowl. One look at Rob’s pants lets you know that having lots of flour on hand is the only way to work the dough into a disk.
Antipasti are non-traditional.Two of the most popular are the roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries, hazelnuts and pancetta, and the calamari salad, dressed with lemon vinaigrette and tossed with arugula, white beans and olives. Each bite has a different texture and delightful taste. There’s always a daily special antipasto, in addition to the handful on the menu.
The restaurant is small, yielding just 15 tables, though the front wall slides open in nice weather, making it possible to accommodate several more on the sidewalk. Red chairs and orange and brown argyle placemats give the industrial interior a splash of color.
I have been a fan of Pizza Bella since the day it opened its doors almost two years ago. As a food writer, I know I shouldn’t frequent it as often as I do, and instead should be out there trying new places, but this urban gem meets all of my criteria–great food, friendly and competent service, reasonable prices, and a nice vibe.
My husband and I recently went to Lawrence to see a KU football game. Though the Jayhawks didn’t have a successful afternoon, our outing was salvaged by dinner at Teller’s restaurant. From the service to the pizza to the nightly special, it was an enjoyable experience. It’s in a former bank building, hence the name, but other than the exterior, there are only minor vestiges of its former life. The interior is certainly not stuffy or staid, rather casual and quite comfortable.
Our server was very knowledgeable about the nightly specials, the preparation of every dish on the menu we asked about, as well as beer and wine selections.He was friendly, but certainly not obsequious. His recommendation of a red Duroc pork chop included a short dissertation on its origins and flavor. It was a great choice, as was the pizza we shared as an appetizer. (For those of you who live in the area, consider stopping by to buy some dough, available even for those not dining there.) My husband was delighted when the server asked if he wanted freshly grated parmesan on his house-made pasta. As usual, they stopped grating before he said “when”.
The bread was fresh and chewy. I suspect it came from Wheatfield’s Bakery on Vermont, just a couple blocks away, which I love. It was served on a rectangular wood block, with two small piles of salt and pepper to season the olive oil.
Teller’s has long been a popular spot on Massachusetts and is usually packed. If you don’t make a reservation, there’s a cozy bar to pass the time.