Penthouse pizza

It fits right in on the hip Classen Curve, with Whole Foods under construction across the street and the attractive, blocks-long Chesapeake Energy campus on view from the dining room.

Nichols Hills’ ladies who lunch barely get the Jaguar warmed up driving here. Once inside, trendy goes into overdrive. It’s one big asymmetrical room, with dining tables and booths done in elegant blond wood and red leather. There’s not a tremendous amount of seating, but the room feels massive because of the very tall ceiling.

A granite-topped bar spans the length of one brick and mahogany trimmed wall and an impressive walk-in glass-fronted wine chill room with 12-foot-tall racks accessed by a sliding ladder invites browsing the extensive vino selection.

“A lot of our guests like to go right in and chose a bottle, or our entire list is on the back of the menu,” said Lindsey Keeton, Upper Crust’s manager. “We have really great Chianti that goes well with pizza.”

Any skepticism about the pizza actually being baked in wood-fired ovens is easily remedied because they’re in open view. The pies are slipped in right next to the smoldering logs.

“We burn pecan, hickory and oak,” Keeton said. “Each pizza is cooked at about 500 degrees. The temperature is controlled by how much wood is fed into it.”

A pizza chef working the oven said it takes experience to master this ancient baking system. There’s no computer control; it’s all a matter of measured judgment. The result doesn’t taste smoked, but there is something that defies description. It’s a rustic heartiness that comes across in every robust bite.

This is a pizzeria that spurns Midwestern convention. There is no “supreme” pie with a dozen toppings. You may order a customized pizza, but the menu has some advice:  “We suggest no more than three toppings for the crispiest, authentic Italian taste.”

are $1.50 each, and you’ll find fennel, Texas goat cheese, prosciutto,
capers and truffle oil among the 34 toppings listed, but no bell pepper.

Crust pizzas are all 12 inches, round and sliced into sixths. It’s
debatable whether they serve two. I ate an entire Some Like It Hot
($12), artistically decorated with spicy Italian sausage, balsamic
peppadew, pepperoncini and hot cherry peppers. But gluttons discounted,
with salads or an appetizer, one pizza would probably feed a normal

Psycho Shroom ($13) — the pies
mostly have cutesy menu names like this — is adorned with fontina,
mushroom mix, chives, truffle oil and grana padano cheese. For a plain,
no-nonsense cheese pizza, there’s the Upper classic pie ($10) that
lacked the eye appeal of the others, but tasted superb.

equally simple garlic cheese bread ($8) appetizer is the restaurant’s
top seller. Besides pizza, also look for panini ($8), lasagna ($13),
meatball subs ($9) and spaghetti and meatballs ($13) — all tempting.

healthier eaters, the Farmer’s Market salad (large, $6) is seasonal. It
was made with Boston bib lettuce, arugula, candied walnuts, Fuji apples
and Gorgonzola cheese, tossed with a vinaigrette, when I visited.

dessert: “Our cookie pie ($6) is the best thing on the menu,” Keeton
said with a Cookie Monster gleam in her eye. “It’s half white
chocolate macadamia nut and half dark chocolate chunks with ice cream on
top. Amazing.”

Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects,
and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service
when appropriate.

Doug Hill

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