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.
Today's review is on Oak & Pie in Wichita.
Oak & Pie is the 15th pizza joint I've tried in my quest of finding the best pizza in the metro. I've never eaten here before, but in talking about my Pizza Challenge with friends, the consensus was Oak & Pie was pretty good.
Walking into the place, the hostess greeted me with a big hello and a huge smile - good start. Since it was dinner for one, I found a seat at the bar where I was once again given a big hello and a huge smile by the lady bartender. She asked me what I would like to drink and offered me a menu. I'm thinking, "This place is on it, hitting all the marks to make a patron feel welcome." My beer was quickly poured and reviewing the menu online beforehand, I pretty much knew already what I was going to order.
Touted as a 'Staff Favorite' on the menu I ordered the Soprano Italiano, which is roasted garlic, mozzarella, pepperoni, spicy sausage and pepperoncini peppers.
As the bartender set up my table service, I started the wait for my pizza as I sipped on my beer, watched ESPN on one of the big screens and fiddled a bit with my phone. My wait wasn't long at all, perhaps 10 minutes and the pizza looked pretty awesome, check out all that pepperoni!
I took the first bite..... The flavors of the toppings were all on point and quite nice, good pepperoni, a zesty, spicy sausage, roasted garlic that let you know it was there without being overpowering, the pepperoncinis provided the perfect complimentary sweet/heat and the portion of mozzarella was generous. My problem with this pie though and it was a downer - IT WAS UNDER-BAKED! The middle of this pizza was soft and doughy and the outer crust was not elevated to the perfect crispy flaky texture that it could have been. This pie could have used a couple more minutes in the oven and that's a shame, the toppings were spot on, but the foundation - the crust - was a fail. I could have sent it back, but that's not something I do in a restaurant, review or not. I ate a few slices but boxed up the rest to take home, the pie will re-heat just fine in my oven and the crust will improve.
Costing me $15 for a 12" pie, I'm giving Oak & Pie and their Soprano Italiano 3 out of 5 stars. The price is reasonable and the pie has some great flavors but the under-baked crust just brought the whole pizza experience down. I'll chalk this up as an anomaly, perhaps it was an oven temp issue or the pizza was just flat out pulled too early. Oak & Pie deserves another visit, as the service was TOP NOTCH!
Oak & Pie is located at:
2244 N Greenwich Rd #900, Wichita, KS 67226
$pend Wisely My Friends...
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