Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria
Three forks out of four
Where: 8815 W. 13th St., 316-440-2885
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Type of food: Pizza, salads, sandwiches, beer brewed on site
Alcohol: Full bar
Reservations: Not accepted
Web site: www.wichitabrew.com
The west side of Wichita has a well-earned inferiority complex when it comes to restaurants. Historically, the best, highest-profile places tend to open on and east of Rock Road or, more recently, downtown.
But every now and then, the west side scores a good one. (Evidence: The best sushi place in town is Kanai at 119th and Maple.)
Now, the west side can claim another unique restaurant. Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria opened earlier this summer in the old Play It Again Sports spot at 13th and Tyler. It’s locally owned by Wichita businessmen Jeremy Horn and Greg Gifford and features a small on-site beer brewery and a wood oven firing up crisp, tasty and unique pizzas.
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ON THE MENU: A long list of wood-fired pizzas a bit more gourmet than a typical carryout place but less fancy than Il Vicino fare. It also offers several beer-friendly appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms and jalapenos. And a list of salads and sandwiches includes favorites such as chicken Caesar and pastrami on rye.
The restaurant is most proud of its beer menu, which features five nicely brewed offerings, ranging from a lighter wheat to a hearty porter.
DON’T-MISS DISHES: Though the restaurant lacks a little polish — from food presentation to service — we enjoyed both of our pizza-gorging trips to Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria.
We tried five different pizzas on two separate visits, and of them, the best was the Capicola Sunshine ($9.75), a nice sweet-and-salty take on a Hawaiian pizza. This one was topped with sliced pineapple, Capicola ham, red and yellow peppers and red sauce. It was made, as all the pizzas are, on a 9-inch thin-and-crispy crust that’s cooked in a wood-fired oven visible from the dining room. (An occasional pizza emerges with an incinerated, black edge.)
Another pizza we tried was as fun as it was delicious: The WBC Pep Pep Pepperoni ($9) was topped with three types of pepperoni, including cubed, sliced and spicy. The tiny pepperoni chunks added a nice texture, and the spicy ones weren’t spicy enough to deter the little diners at our table. (Hops-infused pepperoni also is another intriguing option the restaurant offers.)
The flavors on the Buffalo Perfection pizza ($9.59) were on, and how could they not be? Nothing topped with chicken, buffalo sauce and blue cheese is likely going to taste bad. Sadly, though, the buffalo sauce was poured on a little thick, so the toppings slid right off the pizza when we picked up the slices.
We weren’t as enthusiastic about the Cajun Bacon Ranch pizza ($9.99), topped with ranch dressing and big slices of bacon. The seasoning was overwhelmingly oregano-heavy, and that’s all we could taste.
From the appetizer menu, we tried the fire-roasted jalapenos, featuring halved peppers stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, Italian sausage and chopped bacon ($8.99). Served alongside a huge bowl of Ranch dressing for dipping, they were tasty — though perhaps a bit expensive for what they were.
The beer, which owners clearly are proud of considering it’s named first in the title, also was good. We enjoyed both the Half-Wit Wheat, an unfiltered wheat beer, and a complex and refreshing Belgian Pale Ale. The beers range in price from $3.50 to $4 a pint, and it’s fun to peer into the beer-making room in the front of the restaurant.
The vats the beer are brewed in are significantly smaller than those at bigger breweries, but it’s interesting to see the tools and ingredients the brewers use lying about the room.
AMBIENCE: The open dining room has a stained cement floor, several tables and chairs and views of the pizza oven. Several televisions are hung throughout the room for those who like a side of sports with their pizza and beer.
PRICE RANGE: Pizzas are between $8 and $10 and can serve one hearty or two smaller appetites. Sandwiches average about $8.50. A lunch special featuring a smaller pizza, half sandwich or half wrap and a side costs $6.99. Kid meals are $3.99.
SERVICE: Our servers were a bit scattered on two visits but eventually got us what we needed.
Ratings reflect the critic’s judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327.