Dining With Denise Neil

Beer and pizza: Naples-style pizzeria knows what goes together

Stressed-out voters will be able to celebrate the outcome of the election – or drown their sorrows – in a pillowy pizza pie.

The owners of Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria have chosen Wednesday, Nov. 9 – the day after Election Day – as the official opening day for their new restaurant at 1706 E. Douglas, right next door to Hopping Gnome Brewing Company.

Earlier this week, owner Robert McMullin demonstrated for me the process he uses to make the pizzas in his pretty, light-filled new restaurant, and I can confirm that these Naples-style pizzas are different from anything Wichita has.

The secret is the crust, which ferments for three days, giving it an indescribable lightness when it’s cooked. The fermentation process also means the whole pizza can be cooked in McMullin’s imported Italian wood-burning oven in about 90 seconds.

The toppings also are different. The pizzas are topped with either a red sauce that’s made from just tomatoes and salt or with just olive oil before getting a light topping of fresh mozzarella and other ingredients like salami, garlic, basil, arugula, onion, rosemary and pancetta. The resulting 13-inch pizza lets the ingredients shine, and the crust is so light, you’re not stuffed – even if you eat the whole thing yourself.

McMullin and his partner/wife, Carolina Tabares, will open the restaurant only for dinner. Hours will be 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to at least 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

The pizzeria’s impending opening has caused next-door neighbor Hopping Gnome Brewing Company to make some changes, too.

Co-owner Stacy Lattin said that, out of respect for its new neighbor, the brewery will stop having food trucks park outside the business in the evenings. They still want to support the food truck scene, she said, and they may ask some food trucks to park at lunchtime on Saturdays when Piatto is closed.

The good news for hungry beer drinkers is that Hopping Gnome owners will allow them to order pizzas next door and then bring them to eat in the brewery. Also, Hopping Gnome, which normally has been open Thursdays through Sundays only, is adding Wednesday hours starting next week, when they’ll tap a special firkin to celebrate Piatto’s opening. For now, Wednesday hours will be 5 to 10 p.m.

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil

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