Dining with Denise Newsletter
April 18, 2014

Cheezies pizza surprisingly good for the cheap price

For years, I drove past the Cheezies Pizza at 3804 W. Maple. The giant “$4.99 pizza” sign spray-painted in the window told me all I needed to know about this place. I envisioned the worst possible convenience store pizza: freezer-burn-flavored crust, gloppy cheese and dried-up pepperoni.

But when the second location of the to-go pizza chain opened downtown in January, a co-worker responded with excited approval. Cheezies Pizza is surprisingly good for the price, he said. The Maple location I had written off had become his go-to spot for inexpensive movie-night pizza.

That same night, I picked up two of Cheezies $4.99 large pizzas – one cheese and one pepperoni. And my co-worker was right. Cheezies’ super-cheap pizza was not what I feared and in fact had flavorful, bready crust, delicious sauce and lots of cheese. A recent tour through the rest of the inexpensive menu yielded similar results. Cheezies isn’t going to win any culinary awards, for sure, but its menu offerings are more than decent, especially for the price.

The franchisee of both Cheezies is Mike Ryno, who also owns Wichita’s Tracy’s Automotive stores.

ON THE MENU The surprisingly large menu includes the two $4.99 large pizzas, and cheese and pepperoni are the only two options at that price. Other one-topping large pizzas can be had for $5.99, and large specialty pizzas are $8.99. The menu also has several hot sub sandwiches, three types of calzones and a Stromboli. Appetizer options include chicken wings, bone in or bone out, plus three varieties of breadsticks. For dessert, Cheezies offers cinnamon breadsticks or a chocolate chip cookie the size of a pizza.

DON’T-MISS DISHES My favorite thing about Cheezies is that $4.99 pepperoni pizza, which would be a good choice for anyone feeding a large group of people. It tastes good, the toppings are generous, and the nongreasy crust compares favorably to Pizza Hut’s hand-tossed one.

I also was pleasantly surprised by the Italian sub sandwich, served on a nice crusty bread and stuffed with pepperoni and chunks of Italian sausage that were held together with melted Mozzarella cheese and “Alpine dressing,” which seems to be a tangy, creamy Italian dressing. The sandwich, served with a bag of chips and a pickle spear, wasn’t huge, but it would satisfy an average appetite and was worth $5.99. Among the other sandwich options are a club, a ham and cheese, a veggie sub and a chicken sub.

The $8.99 specialty pizza menu includes deluxe, multimeat, veggie, Canadian bacon and pineapple, taco style and double pepperoni. There’s also chicken bacon ranch, which is what we tried but did not love. It was topped with chicken chunks, bacon, onions and green peppers, but it had a bit of an off-putting processed garlic aroma, and the flavor matched. Next time, we’ll stick with the less complicated basics.

The menu lists only one Stromboli variety, and it’s also $8.99. It was giant and pretty, featuring dough stuffed with cheese, Canadian bacon, bacon, green peppers, onions and ranch dressing. It was a lot of food, and the dough had a nice flavor. The long, rectangular Stromboli was sliced down the center lengthwise and then several times crosswise to create many sharable pieces.

We also opted for an order of Apline sticks, which were $2.99 for a small round of dough topped with the creamy Italian Alpine dressing plus lots of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, then baked, sliced into sticks and served with a side of marinara. They were delicious, decadent and gone quickly. Customers also can get cheesy breadsticks topped with garlic butter or sliced jalapenos.

For dessert, we ordered a “cookie wedge,” which is one-quarter of the restaurant’s pizza-sized cookie but costs $2.75 instead of $9.99. It was wrapped in plastic wrap, and, as the cashier said with a proud smile, “still warm.” It was so warm that it was still dough and stayed that way for some time. We waited until it cooled completely to unwrap it. By then, it had hardened enough that it could be sliced. The cookie was rich and greasy and tasted of pre-packaged cookie dough, but that’s just how the kids in my house like it.

AMBIENCE Both Cheezies are designed for carry-out customers and have little more than to-go counters where customers can place their orders and then pick up their food. The Maple Cheezies is in a small, metal building. The downtown one is attached to the Tracy’s at 525 E. First St. North.

PRICE RANGE Excessively inexpensive. The feast I ordered included two large pizzas, a Stromboli, a small order of wings, a small order of breadsticks, a sandwich that was served with chips and a pickle and a large wedge of a chocolate chip cookie and was less than $40.

SERVICE My orders all have been accurate and ready to go when I arrived.

Three restaurant updates

1. Oliver’s Little Italy, the Italian restaurant that opened last fall in the old Angelo’s spot at 1930 S. Oliver, will close at the end of business on Saturday. The location hasn’t worked out for a variety of reasons, said chef Scott Cosentino, whose girlfriend, Dyan Gordon, owns the restaurant. Cosentino said they hope to find another location but don’t know where that would be. They’ll keep the restaurant’s Facebook page active so customers can keep track of their next move. For more information, call 316-260-6395.

2. Rip’s Rib Shak, the mobile barbecue trailer that Steven Pittman and his father-in-law, Kevin Smith, opened last summer, is about to get a brick-and-mortar brother. The duo plus Pittman’s wife and Smith’s daughter, Alexis Pittman, are opening a stationary version of Rip’s Rib Shak in an old Phillips 66 station at 611 W. Harry. They hope to have it open by mid-June and plan to serve the same menu made popular by the trailer: St. Louis-style spareribs, pulled pork, hotlinks, burgers and chicken legs cooked on a Himalayan salt block. The small space has some room for seating, and Pittman hopes to add outdoor seating. In the meantime, Pittman is serving from the trailer, which is parked right in front of the future business, starting at 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. He keeps serving until he runs out of food, which he said is usually around 5 or 6 p.m. Pittman, who has worked at several barbecue restaurants over the years, plans to still use the truck for special events and to travel to barbecue competitions. Keep up with the progress on the Rip’s Rib Shak Facebook page.

3. Applebee’s, 11317 E. 13th St. North. Tuesday was the opening day for the new Applebee’s in the Plazzio development at 13th and Greenwich. The new restaurant sits between Sumo and Jose Pepper’s at the development’s main entrance and replaces the one that’s operated since 1990 at 21st and Rock Road. It closed earlier this month in preparation for the transition. Customers will find a big patio at the new Applebee’s, and it will eventually have an indoor/outdoor fireplace. Its hours will be the same as all other Applebee’s: 11 a.m. to midnight daily. For more information, call 316-652-0234.

Amber Waves a new beer fundraiser

Amber Waves, a new beer stroll planned for May 16 in Delano, sounds sort of like the popular Winefest Walkabout, only with beer in Delano instead of wine in Old Town. The event includes 13 participating Delano businesses that each will offer 2-ounce pours of craft beers made by brewers such as Breckenridge, Sam Adams and Schlafly. Those who attend buy a $50 ticket and stroll from store to store sampling the beer. Several of those stores also will offer hors d’oeuvres prepared by local restaurants and prize drawings. Already signed up are stores such as All Things BBQ, Bluebird Arthouse and Twist Yarn Shop. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m., when most of those businesses would normally be closed. Money raised goes to Starkey Inc. More information and tickets are available at amberwavesict.com.

Bonefish Grill serving Saturday lunch

Wichita’s Bonefish Grill has added Saturday lunch. The first one was on April 12 at the restaurant, 10250 E. 13th St. North. There’s now a separate lunch menu that includes a fish sandwich, fish and chips, a vegetarian pasta, a burger and its famous Bang Bang shrimp served in both a Po’ Boy and tacos. It also has a few items from the main menu, including crab cakes and filet mignon, served at a reduced price. You can check out the full lunch menu on the website Bonefish Grill. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when Bonefish will switch over to the regular menu. Only a few Bonefish Grills across the country are serving Saturday lunch. For more information, call 316-315-0299.

Annual Lions Pancake feed Thursday

The 56th annual Downtown Lions Club pancake day, an event that attracts about 2,000 people to Century II’s Exhibition Hall for all-you-can-eat pancakes plus sausage and coffee, is schedule for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $6 in advance by calling 316-264-1610 and are available at the door. Money raised goes toward supporting free and assisted child care programs at the YMCA.

Mooyah adds pick-up window

Mooyah, the burger restaurant at 352 S. West St., has just added a drive-through pick-up window. It’s not a typical drive-through where customers order on the spot. It’s intended for people who call ahead or place online orders and want to drive up to pick up their food rather than park, go in the restaurant and stand in line. Anthony Powell, who opened the restaurant in November 2012, said he was impressed by the volume of business neighbor Cinnamon’s Deli did with its pick-up window and decided it was something that would make sense at Mooyah, too. “I’ve already had a lot of people say, ‘This is great,’ especially moms with kids,” Powell said. To place a Mooyah order in advance, call the restaurant at 316-558-5600, visit the Mooyah website or download the Mooyah app.