Riverwest Pizza Has $3 Slices, $3 Tall Rails
With 12 different kinds of tasty pizza and 12 different tap beers, there’s plenty to make you happy.
I first got wind of Riverwest Pizza (932 E. Wright St.) before it opened from their general manager Dominic Kissinger, who handed me his card while bartending at the (now defunct) Studio Lounge in Bay View. The neighborhood doesn’t have many local pizza parlors so it seemed like a good investment. Riverwest residents can be sensitive about their businesses and so I did wonder if it might be viewed as an agent of gentrification. But with its focus on fresh, local ingredients and oddball toppings, it’s a winning combination of quality food, trusty drinks and a hip sensibility. I knew it had been accepted in the neighborhood when a group of Uptowner regulars (read: older guys) ordered a couple of pies to go one Sunday when I was bartending there.
Before stopping in to sample their happy hour last week I had visited Riverwest Pizza a couple times and was already a fan. Their happy hour includes $2.50 Schlitz and Miller Lite taps, $3 pints of Spotted Cow, and $3 tall rails, which is the best value. You can also snag a slice for $3, either meat or vegetarian, with options changing daily. The beauty of their happy hour is that it runs from 3pm-7pm and 10pm to midnight, so if you’re in need of a late night slice in Riverwest or beyond, look no further.
While the drink selection is nice, food is the star at Riverwest Pizza. The fried brussel sprouts are amazing. The “Early to Bed, Early to Fries” are simple, but just right. The shrimp corn cakes are another intriguing appetizer. I sampled each of their three chicken wings (Mild, Medium and Hella Hot), which are made with free-range birds. The dry rub on the Mild is one of the best in the city. Pizza is obviously their most popular item with a dozen signature pies each named after a local street. They are available gluten-free for $2 extra and you’re welcome to make your own. My favorites so far are the Fratney (balsamic glazed duck, caramelized onions, scallions, goat cheese, and fresh arugula) and Greenfields (house made pesto, shaved parmesan, fresh mozzarella, and arugula).
There are a dozen beers on tap at Riverwest Pizza, including two from Ale Asylum (currently Unshadowed and Hopalicious). Sundays feature $3 Ale Asylum taps and bottles. Mondays are half-off all cans, of which they have 10 tall boys. They also carry 47 domestic bottles, 13 imports, 13 wines (12 by the glass), plus my favorite summer drink, the ever refreshing Crabbie’s Ginger Beer of Scotland. The liquor selection is pretty basic but they do have three local Central Standard Craft Distillery products, their vodka, gin and white whiskey. Not to mention, lots of Skyy vodka, which is involved in their Thursday $6 martinis and $5 “Ladies Night” champagne cocktails (3pm to close). Wino Wednesdays (40 percent off all bottles) and Taco Pizza Tuesdays ($3 Corona, Victoria, Tecate and $6 tall margaritas, plus a special taco pizza) keep the deals going mid-week.
In keeping with the spirit of the neighborhood Riverwest Pizza offers Bicycle Benefits and on Fridays anyone with a valid ID showing Riverwest residence gets 25 percent off everything from 11am-6pm. The building doesn’t have tons of seating, so expect a wait on weekend nights, but the patio is sizable and comfy. The walls are adorned with local art for sale and they have cool light fixtures.
While sipping my $3 tall rail gin and tonic (with a splash of pineapple juice) and eating my artichoke and mushroom slice last week I chatted with an older patron named John. Uncharacteristic of his age group, but common to the neighborhood, he was into new and local music. That night he was planning on seeing Jaill at the Riverwest Public House. I told him if he was into Jaill he had to check out Soul Low, another fantastic local alt rock outfit. Pizza, good conversation and music, it’s all there in Riverwest.