Although we usually shy away from showcasing chains, Il Vicino Wood Fired Pizza is one of those exceptions. While the idea of wood fired pizza is no longer a rare occurrence, toss in that the recipes are all determined by a gourmet chef, and now that’s something special. We visited their Bradley Fair location in Wichita, Kansas to sample their goods.
What is Il Vicino?
The story of Il Vicino starts with three guys who grew up working in the restaurant business. During part of these formative years, the three of them worked together at the same restaurant, and became fast friends. Tom White left for a while to attend culinary school, and earn his chef hat. After his return, the three worked together to open a couple of high-end Italian food restaurants. Chef White proposed the concept of a wood fired pizzeria that used high quality ingredients. The dishes would be served in a casually upscale atmosphere. The idea was just what the group wanted to present to the public.
The name Il Vicino means “the neighbor”. To show their commitment to the community, the restaurant offers fundraising opportunities for local organizations. A simple three step process is used to help groups earn a percentage of sales during their events. This is another thing that makes this chain stand out from others.
Our visit to Il Vicino came at the end of a long research day, so we were definitely ready to eat. Looking for a good representation of their offerings, as well as a balanced meal, we started with a salad. The pizzeria’s namesake salad is loaded with roasted chicken, diced egg, artichoke hearts, chopped walnuts, and Gorgonzola cheese. The flavor was bold, and had so many different layers. The house vinaigrette was an excellent accent. A nice cocktail made with a Moscato and orange was an refreshing bonus.
For our main course, we decided to sample the Molta Carne, which is loaded with pepperoni, sausage, Capocolla ham, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, and fresh oregano. Wow! That is a load of toppings. I walked over and watched our pie being prepared. It’s always been interesting to me, since I worked in a local pizzeria during my high school years. Soon our entree was served, and after snapping a few pictures, it was time to taste it. The light, bubbly crust was a perfect texture to support the mixture of flavors on top. The pie was delicious, and soon disappeared. The entire meal was just what we needed after a long day. We think those three guys really know what they are doing.
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