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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

What's cooking at Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar?
There is so much more than pizza on the menu
 
Published Thursday, December 26, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

clientuploads/v38n13photos/Potato & Egg Pizza 300.jpg
PHOTO/WOLFGANG PUCK PIZZA | BAR
The pizzas at Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar come topped with everything from potatoes and eggs to short ribs and smoked salmon. The dough is made in-house from scratch and takes nine days to ferment.

There’s much more cooking at Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar than the famed wood-oven baked pizzas, which come topped with everything from potatoes and eggs to short ribs and smoked salmon.

The charming restaurant located at Phillips Place in SouthPark offers an extensive menu of Italian-inspired dishes – including antipasti, salads, handmade pastas and other enticing entrees made with delectable meats and fish.

“We are a full-service restaurant, and we have a full-service menu,” said Chef Scott Wallen, corporate executive chef for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide. “We really want people to understand that we do want you to come in and try the pizza because we put a lot of love in the dough, but we don’t want everyone at the table to come in and have pizza. We want you to come in as a (table of four) and have a pizza, a salad, a pasta, an entrée and everybody share because it’s supposed to be communal and fun. A traditional Italian dinner would be like that, so that’s what we want to be.”

When it comes to cooking, any trained chef would agree that the secret is not in creating complicated dishes but in using quality ingredients.

“It’s about keeping it simple,” Wallen said. “If you source good products and use good meats, you don’t have to overcomplicate. Just add two or three ingredients, don’t overcomplicate the plate, and it will be fantastic.”

At Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar, there is no walk-in freezer. Every item on the menu – from the white-bean hummus to the duck sausage – is made in-house daily from scratch. The only thing frozen is the gelato.

“Everything is made in house,” said Wallen. “It’s very artisan, and I don’t know that all casual concepts really go to that extent. Our pizza dough is nine-day fermentation. It takes nine days to get the pizza to the table. There are very few restaurants, if any, that are going to that length to make their pizza dough. I think that’s what really sets us aside - our willingness to commit to the quality of the product.”

With so many great dishes on the menu, it can be hard to choose which to order. Wallen recommends that first-timers try the lamb sausage pizza (topped with roasted peppers, goat cheese and roasted eggplant), braised beef short ribs (served with white bean pancetta puree and brussel sprouts), gemelli pasta (made with fennel sausage Bolognese, broccolini and ricotta cheese) or the tender baby kale salad (topped with parmesan, pine nuts, fennel, pickled onions and lemon vinaigrette).

Central to all of Wolfgang Puck’s endeavors is the famed chef’s WELL (Wolfgang’s Eat, Love, Live) philosophy. It stands for culinary passion for eating and a commitment to providing food made with only the freshest, most natural and organic ingredients available, while celebrating local farmers and using only humanely raised animal products.

“It begins with the understanding of what the Wolfgang hospitality is,” said General Manager Cedric Castro. “It’s about treating everybody like they are family and treasured friends. And it’s warm and it’s genuine. It comes from the heart… You can’t find that experience everywhere.”

As a grand finale to any meal, the dessert menu boasts of creative and playful treats featuring classic Italian favorites, all made from scratch, in-house with a modern twist. One of the most popular is the Soda Shop Sampler, which comes with cinnamon sugar donuts and an espresso milkshake.

The restaurant also features a dynamic beverage list to compliment the Italian-inspired menu with domestic and international beers and a comprehensive selection of wines, many imported from Italy.

The bar also offers an array of specialty cocktails, such as the Limonata (made with Ketel One Citroen Vodka, Pallini Limoncello and Lemongrass), the Autumn Apple Martini (made with Absolut Orient Apple Vodka, Cinnamon Infused Apple Brandy, and Apple Cider Simple Syrup) and the Cherry Sour (made with Jim Beam Bourbon, Campari and Brandied Cherries).

All signature cocktails are half price on Wednesday nights. Other weekly drink specials include half-priced beer on Monday, half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesdays, half-priced martinis on Thursday and $12 carafes of sangria on Friday.

“Our cocktails are handcrafted and made with fresh juices,” Castro said. “We don’t use any mixes… and we take great pride in that.”

In October, the pizza bar began offering “Cooked, Corked and Poured.” For $50, diners can enjoy an intimate not-on-the-menu, seasonal four-course meal, personally hosted by the general manager and executive chef, paired with a specific type of beverage.

The December event featured wines from the Delicato Family Vineyards, makers of Wolfgang Puck wines. Previous dinners featured Jim Beam bourbon and beers form Natty Greene’s Brewing Co. in Greensboro.

“It’s meant to be comfortable and inviting and warm,” said Wallen. “It’s like a family dinner. Guests can expect to see things at the dinner that are not on the menu. So they can expect us to go above and beyond what we do everyday, and really refine the food a little more. We really want to showcase something that they are not getting off the menu… It should be something that they really are not getting anywhere else.”

Wallen also teaches adult and youth cooking classes at the restaurant. Attendees learn to turn local ingredients into simple delicious meals.

For more information about the restaurant visit WolfgangPuck.com or check out their Facebook page, which is updated daily with schedules for monthly dinners, cooking classes and other events. You might even get a tip on when Puck will be in town. Rumor has it that he plans to visit sometime next year…

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