It's been open for only a couple of months, but already Pacific Coast Pizza has become popular with families in northeast Wichita.
On a recent Saturday night, the restaurant — which offers pizzas, salads and sandwiches with a West Coast flair — was packed with moms, dads, teens and kids, all munching on the restaurant's uniquely crusted, interestingly topped pizzas.
The well-lighted restaurant is locally owned and in the summer will feature an inviting patio where customers can play bocce ball.
It also delivers within a five-mile radius.
ON THE MENU: Pizza is the main draw, and the menu features about 20 varieties as well as a choose-your-own option. The pies come in 8-, 12- and 14-inch rounds. Also available: seven varieties of chicken wings, 10 different salads and a list of wraps, sub sandwiches and sandwiches made on fresh-baked focaccia bread.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: Pacific Coast's pizzas are a little different, mostly because of the crust, which is more like a bready Boboli crust than a yeasty Il Vicino or Old Chicago crust. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your crust preference. (Two flavors are available — Italian white or rosemary whole wheat.)
The topping combinations make the pizzas interesting and unique. Though the usual meat or veggie options are offered, the list of toppings also includes items ranging from Thai peanut chicken to coconut, dates to fresh spinach.
The pizzas we tried weren't life-changing or particularly memorable. But they were decent to partly delicious.
Our favorite was the tsunami, Pacific Coast's rendition of a supreme pizza. It included pepperoni, smoked ham, ground beef, Italian sausage, pork sausage, sauteed mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and smoked Gouda. Loaded with fresh, attractive toppings, it was tasty and satisfying.
The Malibu was also good, with ground beef, sauteed mushrooms bacon and Swiss cheese.
Our buffalo chicken pizza was a little odd. It had the nice blue cheese and buffalo sauce flavors we expected, but the occasional unexpected crunch of a celery slice was sometimes unpleasantly jarring.
We ordered one of our pizzas — the Gidget, made with pesto, mozzarella, portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, Roma tomatoes and goat cheese — on the rosemary wheat crust, which emerged browner and much crispier than its Italian white counterpart. It was crunchy and light and allowed the flavor of the gourmet-ish toppings to shine.
One of the highlights of our meal was an order of chicken wings with mild buffalo sauce (other choices include hot buffalo sauce, barbecue, Thai sweet chili garlic, ginger teriyaki and garlic Parmesan). The wings were larger than most and meaty, and the sauce had just the right bite, easily doused with sides of blue cheese and ranch. (An order of 10 costs $6.49.)
Disappointments included a spinach salad ($6.99) ruined by a too-big pile of shredded gouda and Parmesan, a too plentiful serving of too-fatty bacon pieces and a not quite appropriate side of ranch dressing.
And an order of fried ravioli ($4.99), a St. Louis special filled with cheese and served with a side of marinara, was delicious. But it came with only five ravioli, meaning we paid about $1 a bite.
AMBIENCE: The large open dining room features exposed ductwork, cement floors and a series of tables and booths. It's fine, though lacking a bit of personality. But the biggest issue is the lighting, which is just too bright for comfort.
An 8-inch pizza, which has four decent-sized slices, is $9.99. The 12-inchers range from $14.99 to $16.99. And the large 14-inch pizzas are $16.99 to $18.99. Appetizers are $1.99 to $5.99. Salads are $2.49 to $6.99. Sandwiches average about $6.99.
SERVICE: Our server was attentive but had her scattered moments, which actually benefited us when she delivered a pizza meant for another table. We didn't realize the mistake before digging in, so were rewarded with a bonus pizza.