Starting a restaurant is a risky proposition, no matter how optimistic the economic outlook. Starting a pizza and sandwich joint, considering the high level of competition, is probably the riskiest proposition of all.
For this reason, I was really excited to try Pizza Oven, which just opened at 8017 State Line Road. I’d been driving by the site for months, watching the sign that said “opening soon”, but it seemed so long that I almost forgot. That is, until the coupons showed up in my mailbox.
Last Friday, having little to no desire to cook a meal for my wife and myself, I thought we would try the place out. Placing a to-go order (I’ve no desire to eat in most pizza joints), I was impressed by the friendliness of the order taker. When I went to pick up our pie, I was again impressed by the worker’s affability. But then, as a new restaurant probably struggling for customers, I suppose you can’t get away with being rude.
I also liked the décor of the place. Simple and minimalist, the focus of this place is clearly on their food. The only artistic touch was in the interesting pizza floor mural, which creates a sort of yellow brick road to the counter. With a throwback feel, I really liked the style of the place.
What I didn’t really like was the topping selection. Sure there were all of the standards, pepperoni, sausage, Italian sausage, olives, onions, tomatoes, but I was a bit disappointed that there was nothing unusual. Even fairly common things like chicken and spinach were noticeably devoid. This was a bit disappointing, but since all of the toppings were fresh and quality, I was willing to overlook this small detail.
As for the pie itself, I have mixed feeling. The crust was fantastic. Crispy on the outside and bottom and chewy in the middle, it was really good, a tribute to the quality oven they use. Unlike many of your chain pizza parlors, their pizzas don’t follow a conveyor, but rather are baked individually until they’re done. In my experience, this is really one of the secrets to a great crust.
As I mentioned, the toppings were fresh and good quality, we had Italian sausage, mushroom, tomato, garlic and black olives. The cheese was a nice mix, and plentiful, melting really nicely onto the pie. But then there was the sauce. Personally, I don’t like sweet tomato sauces, and this one was surely a sweet one. In fact, it reminded me nothing so much as the sauce you get on a frozen Red Baron.
In summation, the pizza’s pretty good at Pizza Oven. It’s not the best I’ve ever had, but it still beats anything you’re going to get from Pizza Hut, Domino’s or Pizza Shoppe. The prices are a little high, at around $15 for a medium with five toppings, but not too bad overall. The service is great, and it’s got a nice atmosphere. If you ever find yourself around the border in south KC, you could do a lot worse than Pizza Oven.