By Mike Thayer
Pizza is my favorite food. Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie.... That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside. Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper. The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite. And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!
No national chains will be included in this challenge. Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify. Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks (sucking SO bad they don't even deserve a link) and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best. The fact is, the local/regional joints run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.
During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.
A Thursday taste test: Po Boy Pizza in Wichita
The pizza 'foundation' for this challenge is a supreme style of pizza - meat and veggie toppings. In order to do a fair evaluation of all pizza joints, the choice of toppings has to be as similar as possible. Po Boy's version of a supreme pizza - and they call it that, a supreme - features the classic supreme style of pizza toppings, pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, onion, black olive and mushroom. I was looking forward to this, not only the pizza, but this was also a date night! I had talked to my date about this pizza challenge and she asked if she could participate. Boy am I glad she did, this place was her recommendation and she was spot on with it!
Po Boy's is a classic Mom & Pop shop, there's nothing fancy about it and there are no adult beverages on the menu but that's more than OK, because you can tell their focus is on the real prize, crafting excellent pizzas, sandwiches and pizza rolls.... Yes, pizza rolls! The mark of a great pizza joint is getting that whiff of pizza parlor when you open the door, I love that smell and Po Boys has it! The slowly simmering sauce, the oven baking that crust, the combined aromas of meats, cheeses, veggies and spices all working together in harmony to further induce pangs of pizza hunger.
This place has a reputation for making fantastic Pizza Rolls and that's what my date and I both ordered. I went with the Supreme Pizza Roll, keeping in line with the foundation of ingredients for this challenge. Enjoying good conversation and sipping on some sodas, it didn't take long at all for our pizza rolls to be delivered to our table. They looked fantastic, smelled fantastic and I couldn't wait to dig in! In full disclosure however, I took pictures, I really did, but I was so pleasantly distracted by my date that I didn't take the time to check and see if those pics turned out.... they didn't, they were blurry and in the name of "food science" (a'hem, cough), I am obligated to do the food and the restaurant justice with decent pics.
The pizza rolls not only looked and smelled fantastic, they were indeed delicious! The Po Boy crust is excellent (an image borrowed from the restaurant's Facebook page on the right and yes, our rolls looked that good), baked to golden, brown perfection, the roll wrapping those Supreme ingredients in a blanket of crispy on the outside, tender flakiness on the inside bite of pizza goodness. Served with a side of a Mediterranean inspired Marinara, it's kind of food fun, dunking that next bite of roll in the sauce, as much or as little as you like. The meats and veggies were all good quality ingredients and generous in portion. Adding to the food fun, the cheese provided that ooey-gooey, stringy pull away look with each bite, I was using my napkin quite a bit.
Here's how good Po Boy's food is..... Because my pictures didn't turn out, I returned the next day for lunch, ordering a small Supreme pizza, taking better pics so I could complete this article. The things I do in the name of "Food Science".......
The Po Boy Supreme Pizza is some of the best I've had so far in this challenge. The crust on both the roll and the traditional pizza is TOP NOTCH! This is no run-of-the-mill dough, Po Boy puts some flavor in their product. And while that crust is an awesome, perfectly baked foundation, what put this pizza over-the-top for me was the sauce. Different from the sauce-on-the-side paired with the roll, the pizza sauce has some zest, delivering big time on the garlic and oregano notes.
The small Supreme Pizza cost me $9.50, a very reasonable price for some of the best pizza I've had so far in this challenge. I'm giving Po Boy Pizza 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, this place is definitely getting a repeat visit..... Ooops, it already did! And a tip of the hat to my date, providing the awesome recommendation! :)
Po Boy Pizza is located at: 5619 E Lincoln St, Wichita, KS 67218