September 11, 2009
Comfort food amid suburban industrial chic
Red or white?
At Spin!ís newest location Ė the local chainís fourth Ė thatís the deciding question, which applies equally well to the restaurantís ever-changing wine specials as it does to the choice between its two competing sauces: bianco or rosso. The latest installation, sandwiched in Main Streetís new firehouse-adjacent restaurant campus near 50th Street, offers seventeen signature pizzas in addition to almost infinite combinations, using its DIY option, on a hand-tossed crispy Neapolitan crust with toppings that range from the mundane (pepperoni, sausage and onions) to adventurous (roasted eggplant, candied pecans, fig marmalade).
The full menu, a busy multi-sectioned affair hanging large on the lobbyís north wall, also boasts three antipasti spreads in accompaniment to rosemary flatbread, six specialty salads, four grilled paninis, two soups, a kidsí meal, bargains in the form of a soup-and-salad special and the Pizza Mia (mini pizza and choice of small salad or cup of soup), and more than several flavors of fair-to-middling gelato. At least one decision has been made for South Plaza visitors: The Meaty Ziti ($7.95) is only available at the Leeís Summit and Olathe locations.
If thatís not enough food for thought, keep in mind that Spin! is a card-carrying member of the hybrid restaurant club, meaning its service lingers in limbo somewhere between cafť (you wait in a usually long line to give your order to the cashier/hostess at the counter, pay and then carry your unsigned bill and wooden-wedge number to your table) and full-service (servers, dressed like regular wait staff but who canít really answer any of your questions about specials or wine, bring you drinks and, in a perfect world, your correct order). Unfortunately, too often thereís a disconnect between the ordering and delivering stages, and because the servers are a step removed from the initial process, corrections can be frustratingly long, particularly when still under the influence of low blood sugar.
That being said, Spin! is practically the most perfect place for workday lunches. The menuís variety, overwhelming on the first visits, is quickly narrowed down to a few perennial favorites. Plus, the Pizza Mia ($8.25) is the just-right bite for that time of day, is fast to arrive at your table, and easily divides into separate checks. No muss, no fuss.
A noon-time pairing of the Margherita, with its sweet sauce of crushed tomatoes and fragrant basil topped with mozzarella and tender roasted grape tomatoes, with the sweet and savory Sonoma salad, dressed by a light hand in a blood orange vinaigrette, can make for an elegant and satisfying mid-day meal. The same can be said for requesting a crunchy 8-Color salad tossed with peppery radishes and celery and made heartier with the additions of gorgonzola and toasted pine nuts with the top-notch white pie, the cippola e chevre, which reveals subtle layers of flavor comprised by fig jam, goat cheese, and roasted and caramelized onions. Anyone looking for an alternative to pizza would be satisfied with the trio of spreads, served with an aromatic rosemary flatbread. Together, the spreads encompass the perfect comfort food: rich, creamy, and tart.
The trademark of Neapolitan pizza is baking an airy thin crust in a wood-fired oven so that bubbles rise from it, creating pockets of flavor and lightly charring select toppings. The danger in this is that sometimes some of the ingredients end up a little too burned. This is what sometimes happens with the roasted and caramelized onions on both the cippola e chevre ($10.75 for the 12-inch version) and the Polpette ($11.45), on which the roasted crimini mushrooms and mealy meatballs donít stand a chance.
A better destination for lunch than dinner, the spacious loft-like dining room seems cavernous, even when filled to capacity. Yet, the noise level has been ingeniously ó and beautifully ó dampened by an old sound-recording studio trick: 2x4s of varying lengths nailed to the ceiling above the ordering station. Not only does this serve a practical purpose, it also gives patrons something to look at while waiting in line. In addition, on temperate days diners can make use of the generous patio that faces Main Street. If anything, it provides the perfect vantage point to scope out Spin!ís pizza-serving competition up and down the street.
Like its predecessors, the motif of the South Plaza location is industrial chic. The open ceiling reveals ductwork painted red. Sturdy wood tables and chairs complement tall pipe-legged tables and a bar matched with brushed metal stools. Dark green banquettes center the dining room. Kansas Cityís own Hammerpress, in conjunction with Willoughby Design, designed and installed the coup de grace, the giant mural on the back wall. This also served as the inspiration for the restaurantís branding in the form of take-out menus and other signage.
Beck Ireland can be contacted at beck.Ireland@gmail.com.
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