Signature dishes, it's food that embodies a region, it's a celebration of iconic cultural flavors, where natives and tourists alike embrace that bowl, that plate, that sandwich, that finger food and say, "You HAVE to try this!"....
Examples of iconic signature dishes includes the Rueben sandwich in New York; crab cakes in Baltimore; The Philly Cheese Steak in Philadelphia; Fried Chicken in Atlanta; Deep dish pizza in Chicago; Bratwurst in Milwaukee; Gumbo in New Orleans and Cedar plank Salmon in Seattle.
So with all that iconic food in mind, does Wichita have a signature dish, or is the Mid-Continent City a melting pot of foods and flavors?
Having fun and inspired by this Signature Dish Challenge, I decided to enjoy the offerings of Knolla's Pizza, which claims to have the best pizza in Wichita.
I needed a pie to enjoy as I watched some Sunday Night Football (I know, pre-season, how good can that be? NOT, but it's football nonetheless), so I called my order in for carry-out. I ordered a large "The Works" which is pepperoni, pork & Italian sausage, onion, green peppers, mushrooms & black olives.
LADY ON THE PHONE: Carry out orders are taking about 25 minutes, will that be OK?
ME: Sure, no problem.
I hopped in my truck and headed to the Knolla's on Central, I arrived about 10 minutes early and the wonderful aroma of a pizza parlor hit me in the schnoz before I even opened the door. Nearly every table in the place was occupied at 5:30pm. I paid for my pizza and ordered a cold beer to enjoy while I waited.
The crowd as a nice mix of young and old, family, friends, co-workers. I noticed a lot of people going up to the counter to get pizza boxes to take what remained of their dinner orders home, a testimony to how good the pizza was, they didn't want to leave it behind.
My pizza was ready a couple minutes ahead of that 25 minutes time frame I was given over the phone, I chugged the rest of my beer and headed out the door...... Miller Lite, it has 1/3 less calories than a regular beer and it tastes great!.... But I digress....
That wonderful aroma of pizza parlor accompanied me to the truck and it was KILLING me on the drive home! Willpower prevailed, I did NOT sneak a slice on the way back to my apartment.
In typical bachelor fashion, I put the pizza box on the coffee table, turned on the tube for some football pre-game, got myself a drink, a paper plate and had at it!
So how was my Knolla's Pizza you ask?
AWESOME! It was LOADED with toppings and it was a flawless balance of meat, veggies, sauce and cheese. The spice of the pepperoni and sausage, the tender-crisp crunch of the onion, the garlic essence of that sauce, the gooey goodness of the melted mozzarella cheese all served up on a perfectly baked crust. That crust.... crackly, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside with each bite. Wonderful!
My pizza cost me $17.00 and it was FANTASTIC! Is it the best pizza in Wichita? That's an article for another day. Could Knolla's pizza represent the Air Capital and pizza as a signature dish? Hell yes! They get five out of five stars!
The Knolla's Pizza visited is located at: 7732 Central Ave #123, Wichita, KS 67206
But my search has only just begun.... I'll be visiting a large variety of restaurants and sampling all types of food, getting input from patrons and restaurant gurus alike, trying to get a feel for what Wichita's Signature Dish might be..... Oh, and national chain restaurants will NOT be a part of this challenge, I'm keeping it as local as possible, a true evaluation in finding what might be Wichita's Signature Dish.
What a challenge huh? I am SO looking forward to the rest of this challenge!
What do you think might be Wichita's signature dish? Comment below.