Hopperoni Express has hit the road

The new Hopperoni Express food trailer has a wood-fired oven inside to bake pizzas on the spot.

Wichita Brewing Company & Pizzeria’s food trailer – the Hopperoni Express — went out for some test runs earlier this week and will return to the streets on Saturday.

The trailer is fitted with a full-sized wood-fired pizza oven and will park at various places, seven days a week, serving 1o-inch pizzas.  For the first few weeks, the truck’s manager — former kitchen manager Stephen Zinda — plans to take the trailer out once a day, either at lunch or dinner time. The location will be posted on the Hopperoni Express Facebook page. Eventually, he plans to have it out for both lunch and dinner daily.

For now, the trailer is offering two of Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria’s best-known speciality pizzas: the Around the Horn, which is a supreme pizza, and the Gregorian Feast, topped with Italian sausage, roasted garlic, mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella and red sauce. Patrons also can order single topping pizzas with items such as sausage, cheese, pepperoni or the restaurant’s signature hopperoni : pepeproni infused with hops.

The pizzas are $6 for a single topping or $8 for a specialty.

On Monday, the truck will be parked from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of Brittany Center at 21st and Woodlawn. The following days’ schedules will be on the Facebook page soon.

Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria is at 8815 W 13th St. For more information about both businesses, call 316-440-2885.

Local breweries celebrating Craft Beer Week

The annual Craft Beer Week, during which small breweries around the nation celebrate the art of  beer making, starts today and runs through Sunday.

This is the eighth annual Craft Beer Week, and two local breweries are celebrating it with activities and specials.

River City Brewing Company at 150 N. Mosley is starting week with the unveiling of six new beer taps, meaning that the brewery — which always has 10 beers on tap — from now on will have 16. From those taps, the brewery will pour the many beer concoctions it’s been experimenting with making during the past couple of years.

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, the brewery will participate in a nationwide toast to craft beer, and today, it’s debuting a White IPA, called Down Wit It IPA, that it made in a collaboration with Wichita Brewing Co & Pizzeria.

That brewery, which is at 8815 W. 13th St, also will be observing the week by tapping a different firkin of beer every night through Saturday.

For more information, call River City 316-263-2739at  or Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria at 316-440-2885 .

Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys and brrrrrrrrrrs

The Flying Stove’s Jeff Schauf at last year’s Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys

I’m excited about attending Friday night’s Second Annual Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys at Botanica– though I’m not very excited about the non-springlike forecast. A 51 degree high on May 3? Unacceptable!

The event was fun last year and featured local restaurants such as Newport Grill, The Anchor and Scotch & Sirloin, competing to make the best Bloody Mary. The Candle Club won with a traditional concoction floating with green beans, gherkins and a hunk of beef jerky.

Those who have a $40 ticket will be invited to roam the grounds sampling each of the Bloody Marys, or if they choose, stopping for a beer. The best part: The Flying Stove food truck is catering, which means the Schauf boys will put out a whole lot of their best dishes, which patrons can just walk up and take. That’s worth the price of admission all on its own.

This year’s event starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Botainca, 701 N. Amidon It will include live music by Spirit of the Stairs, beer provided by Wichita Brewing Company and River City Brewery, and lots of Bloody Marys, made using sponsor Pinnacle’s vodka.

Tickets are $40 and available at 316-264-0448 or by visiting botanica.org.

The Candle Club’s winning Blood Mary from last year

The Hopping Pita rolls out on Wednesday

The Hopping Pita, Melad Stephen’s new food truck that will be led by well-known local chef Roni Attari, will officially open on Wednesday.

Attari said he will park the truck near the corner of First and Mosley in Old Town and will open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The menu, which is peruse-able on the Hopping Pita Facebook page, offers items such as beef and chicken schwarma in pita as well as pitas filled with fish and falafel. There’s also hummus, tabouli, baba ghanoush, baklava and fresh brewed mint tea.

The Hopping Pita owners had hoped to have the truck out much earlier than now but were plagued by several problems, including a broken generator. Attari is still deciding where he’ll park and serve each day, but customers can find the truck via the Facebook page.

As summer approaches, it’s suddenly raining food trucks. Just in the past few weeks, Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria said it would open a food truck called Hopperoni Express within a month. A local German cook said she’ll open Let’em Eat Brats sometime in May. And another pizza food truck, The Rolling Dough, is planned for later this year.

Local breweries celebrating American Craft Beer Week

It’s American Craft Beer Week, an annual nationwide celebration of locally brewed beers. And Wichita’s two local brewers – River City Brewing Co. at 150 N. Mosley and Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria at 8814 W. 13th St. are celebrating with specials all week.

They’ve even paired up to create a local mega brew, which both will serve on Friday.

River City’s observance of the week includes daily beer and food specials. Each day, the restaurant will feature a different beer from its collection and sell glasses — normally $4 — for $1.50. The food special will incorporate the beer of the day into the recipe. For example, today’s beer is the Old Town Brown, which was used to make the rich cheese sauce on today’s Philly cheese steak sandwich.

Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria also is offering beer specials all week. Today, it has $2 Porter pints (normally $4), and on Wednesday, IPA pints will be $2.

On Friday, both breweries will offer a beer called ICT Conspiracy, which they teamed up up to create. It’s a mixture of River City’s Belgian Triple and Wichita Brewing Co.’s IPA that’s described as light in color but very hoppy.

OH, and if you want a free koozie (and who doesn’t?) all you have to do is stop into River City today and sign the Declaration of Beer Independence, which demands life, liberty and the pursuit of hops.

Little bites of restaurant stuff

Check out Bella Vita's new sign. Hopefully, it'll make the restaurant more visible to passers-by.

I’ve been collecting little restaurant details that I thought I’d better share. Consider this entry to be blog tapas, if you will.

1. Bella Vita’s new sign: For a long time, I’ve thought that Bella Vita Bistro, a good but previously hard-to-find restaurant at 120 N. West St., could use better signage. It sits way back off the road in a strip center, and if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there. I noticed the other day that the restaurant now has a new sign — a big one, right up next to the street. Good move.

2. Seal Team Six at Wichita Brewing Co & Pizzeria: Owner Jeremy Horn called today to tell me about a special beer he’s brewed and titled “Seal Team Six,” a nod to the Navy Seals team that captured Osama Bin Laden. It’s a black IPA, which he describes as “dark like a Porter, without the roasted character, and hopped.” (Sounds strong.) He’s brewed only five barrels of it, meaning it should be available for another month. Today, in honor of Veteran’s Day, he’s serving goblets — normally $5.50 — for $4.50.

3. Adrian’s menu update: George Matta from Adrian’s at 2121 N. Rock Road asked me to let people known about some of his new menu items, including a 14 oz. T-bone steak served with roasted potatoes and vegetables; a stuffed pork tenderloin filled with spinach and walnuts and topped with an apple Brandy cranberry sauce; and a grilled chicken Parmesan served with vegetables and spaghetti or roasted potatoes. Matta also says he’s considering adding a Sunday brunch to his offerings.

4. Bonnie’s latest chef classes: Bonnie Aeschliman of Cooking at Bonnie’s Place, 9747 E. 21st St. N., has two more chef classes on her schedule. There are still a few seats left for Tuesday’s session with Tallgrass Country Club chef Ben George, who will be demonstrating “West Coast Fusion” style cooking. And speaking of Bella Vita, the restaurant’s chef, Adrian Prud Homme DeLodder, will be teaching an Asian cooking class on Nov. 29. Both classes start at 6:30 p.m. and cost $45 a person. Make reservations here.

First impression: Wichita Brewing Co & Pizzeria

I like pizza, and I like beer, so I’ve been curious about the new Wichita Brewing Co & Pizzeria, which opened a couple of weeks ago at 8815 W. 13th in the old Play It Again Sports space.

I had a chance to check it out last night, and my early report is pretty positive.

After some initial trouble finding the place (it’s in an L-shaped strip center on the southwest corner of 13th and Tyler) I walked in to an attractive, nicely arranged dining room. The air conditioning was struggling to keep up, but since the heat dome has mercifully left town, that wasn’t too much of an issue.

We were told that the menu, which I’m linking to here so you can peruse it, is just a temporary menu and that the real ones are on the way. But the content should be mostly the same.

Several pizzas sounded good, but we settled on the Gregorian Feast ($8.95), made with Italian sausage, roasted garlic, mushrooms, mozzarella and red sauce, and the Cappicola Sunshine ($9.75), topped with sliced pineapple, cappicola ham, red and yellow peppers and red sauce.

Both pizzas, which were roughly nine-inchers, were good, though we preferred the Cappicola Sunshine, which featured a generous helping of delicious shaved Cappicola ham. The crust was super thin and crispy, having been cooked in a wood-fired brick oven. Two salads that came with our kids pizzas ($3.99 for a personal pepperoni) were also good, particularly the tangy Caesar. 

Several other things on the menu looked tempting, including some stuffed mushrooms and wood-fired jalapenos from the appetizer menu, and a pizza called Buffalo Perfection, made with buffalo chicken, red and yellow peppers and fresh mozzarella over Alfredo sauce and choice of ranch or blue cheese drizzle.

OH! And the beer. I also tried a glass of Half-Wit Wheat, which was a little more punch than wheat beer I’m used to and was cloudy not clear. But I liked it! You can see the list of available beers on the menu as well.

And I will go back if for no other reason than I simply must try the peanut butter s’more pizza on the dessert menu, featuring pizza dough topped with smooth peanut butter, chocolate sauce, marshmallows and graham cracker crumbles and a light honey drizzle.

Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays and noon to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 316-440-2885.