The outside of Wheel Apizza Pub is coated with brick. The inside is filled with tables and walls made of rich stained wood. In fact, the only things inside that aren’t crafted from wood are the trendy metal chairs and steel fermentation tanks that tower over the chefs who are preparing dough in the kitchen. Soothing jazz music plays over the speakers and Eugene-themed art is used as decor.
Wheel Apizza Pub (390 Lincoln St.) is a New Haven-style pizza restaurant and brewery with a hip atmosphere, house-crafted drinks and a wide variety of original pizza options. The menu caters to all tastes and diets from a tempeh sausage and veggie option to a lamb and beef meatball pizza. The pub also offers a wide range of delicious salads and small plates for those who aren’t pizza friendly.
New Haven-style pizza is something that Wheel Apizza Pub takes seriously and wants to get right. The name “Apizza” (pronounced “ah-beetsa”) actually comes from New Haven, Connecticut — it is the name for their local style of pizza. Traditionally this type of pizza is thin, hand-shaped and sparse on the toppings. Wheel Apizza nails the look and taste of this style while adding their own twist.
The main draw to Wheel Apizza Pub is the bar, open seating, brewery feel and satisfying food — this combination makes it the ideal hang-out spot in Eugene. All the tables inside the pub can seat five or more people and the pizzas are the perfect size to share with a date or group.
The house-brewed beer, cocktails and sodas help to round out the eatery by adding an entirely new angle — no other establishment in town has combined a brewery with a pizza restaurant. The bar is always manned by a friendly bartender that can make non-alcoholic, house-crafted sodas or give a needed recommendation for what rotating house-brewed beer might pair best with the pizza that will soon arrive at the table.
Wheel Apizza has nine different beer options — though some are seasonal — one of which is the Stardust Brett Pale Ale that is on tap now. The brewing tanks can be found tucked around a corner and boxed in by glass — patrons are able to see where their beverage was made. The brewing is handled by the experienced Trevor Ross and Tobias Schock who worked previously at local Eugene breweries Claim 52 and Agrarian Ales, respectively.
Similar to the way that the brewing tanks are on display, a view of the pizza being made is wide open. The entire kitchen is visible just behind the main ordering station, making the whole experience much more intimate.
Full pizzas are available for order and are 14 inches in diameter. The Margherita is one of the more popular choices — and for good reason. The Italian classic is executed well for this New Haven-style spot; it’s only $13 for gooey and cheesy goodness. There are also seasonal specials like the Italian and the Veggie. The Italian is $18 and includes aged mozzarella, capers, soppressata, pepperoncinis and micro-greens. The Veggie is $18 as well and topped with lemon cream sauce, kale, yellowfoot mushrooms, rosemary, sunchokes and mozzarella. The other choices are written on a blackboard just above the ordering counter. A make-your-own option, called the “Your Dream,” is also available for $12, plus $1 extra for each basic topping and $2 for the more gourmet choices.
Single slices are available for lunch (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.); options consist of cheese, pepperoni, a veggie special and a meat special. This week's vegetarian slice was topped with assorted local veggies and a tempeh sausage, which had a surprisingly tasty resemblance to its meaty namesake. These can be ordered solo or as a lunch special for a great deal. The special is $7.50 for one slice of pizza and a side salad that is composed of local greens, carrots, radishes and red onions with a red wine vinaigrette.
The “ah-beetsa” is almost always fantastic, but some of the combinations go a little too far and overpower the delicious New Haven style at its base. Though the Eugene pizza is close to the top in quality, what pushes Wheel Apizza ahead as a restaurant is the overall atmosphere and the attention to detail in every aspect of the experience.