Pizza past inspires present

Savor National Pizza Month in the city that brought it to the world

Written by Joe Stumpe

Wichita didn't invent pizza, but the original home of Pizza Hut helped make it a favorite around the nation and world. So maybe it's natural that the city still produces a lot of good pizza.

A couple of local pizza makers go back even further than 1958, which is when brothers Dan and Frank Carney opened their first Hut.

For traditional, you can't do better than the pizza at Angelo's Italian Restaurant, 5231 E. Central, which still uses the recipes created by founder Angelo Fasciano's wife, Anna. This is old-school pizza, slathered with red sauce, lavishly topped with meat and vegetables and finished with tons of melty brown cheese. Another word for it would be company pizza, since you'll need help to finish one.

Savute's Italian Ristorante, 3303 N. Broadway, has been around even longer, going back to the mid 1940s. The late John Savute claimed to have installed the first pizza oven in town, and it's still cranking out a great pizza. For an unusual combination, try one topped with hamburger and sauerkraut. Sounds strange, but it's delicious.

The Knollas — Pat, Dan and Steve — are another set of Wichita brothers who've done well with pizza since opening their first restaurant here nearly 30 years ago. Four locations (13th and West, Central and Rock, Central and Ridge, Maize and 37th) with take-out and dine-in options serve up the Knollas' "French bread style" pizza as well as a deep-dish version.

There's another great pizza available at multiple locations in Wichita, although technically the places serving it are not part of a chain. As a result of various business and management deals, the thin crust, loaded-on-top pizza first perfected at Mulligan's Pub, 8343 E. 32nd N., is also served at Joe's Old Town, 222 N. Washington, Dudley's, 8550 W. 21st, and O'Malley's, 2405 W. 31st St. S.

Probably the pizza joint that made the biggest splash in recent years is Picasso's Pizzeria, 621 W. Douglas. The owners spent a lot of time perfecting their chewy New York crust — something not available in Wichita up to that time — and it shows. And just like in the Big Apple, you can buy it by the slice, and a slice is a meal.

A different take on crust — and one with its own fans — is the doughy version served at Ziggy's in Clifton Square Village at 3700 E. Douglas. The cottage-like interior and shaded courtyard would make anything taste better.

Wichita Brewing Company, with locations at 13th and Tyler and Central and Woodlawn, is almost as well-known for its wood-fired pizza as its beer. Interestingly enough for a place that uses so much wheat in general, WBC's gluten-free pizza is the only really good one of those we've ever tried.

We realize this is just a small slice of the total pizza served in Wichita. The Pumphouse, 825 E. 2nd St., Public at the Brickyard, 129 N. Rock Island, and Marcello's, 3107 S. Seneca, all pop to mind as places with their own delicious takes on the stuff. We're not gonna even touch the question of which one is best. Let's just say it's the one you've really been craving.

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