Kansas City’s Spin Pizza coming to Sixth and Wakarusa area; rumor of another restaurant for South Iowa; Mojo’s chicken wings make a return

One half of Lawrence’s great restaurant mystery is solved. (No, I haven’t found where the top button of my slacks went after all-you-can eat chicken fried steak night.) But now we do know the identity of one of the two restaurants locating next to the Wal-Mart at Sixth and Wakarusa: Spin Neapolitan Pizza.

The popular Kansas City-based artisan pizza joint confirmed it has inked a deal and hopes to be open in Lawrence by the fall. The restaurant will be just east of the Wal-Mart store on vacant land that will be the site of a new building that will house two restaurants separated by a retail shop. Other tenants for the building haven’t been identified yet.

“Lawrence has been on Spin’s radar for a long time,” said Brent Boles, the managing partner of the franchise group that will open the Lawrence restaurant.

If you are not familiar with Spin Neapolitan Pizza, you probably are wondering how they ever came up with the idea of putting that delicious combination of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream on pizza. Well, come to find out, I’m an idiot when it comes to understanding things Neapolitan because I just ruined four gallons of perfectly good ice cream. The Neapolitan, of course, refers to the style of pizza and its crust. So, we’re talking hand-spun, thin crusts that are cooked in a stone oven.

The restaurant touts itself as an artisan-style pizzeria, which means it has a variety of toppings that you may not necessarily think of for pizza. For example, cheeses range from the traditional mozzarella to asiago, feta and something called taleggio. Meats include staples like Italian sausage and pepperoni, but also Italian bacon, Scimeca’s meatballs, and salami. In addition there are things like arugula, pine nuts, crushed glazed pecans, fig onion marmalade and sun-dried tomato relish that you can put on your pizza. The menu also touts a wide selection of “verdure arrosti,” which I think means, “you speak Italian and I don’t.” (Quit playing with Google translator or else you’ll never get any work done today. It means roasted veggies.)

The restaurant has been popular in Kansas City since it opened its first restaurant in 2005. We’ll see how the Lawrence market responds. Upscale pizza is a part of the dining market that has some momentum right now. Local chef Rick Martin got the trend going in Lawrence with his popular Limestone Pizza Kitchen and Bar, which opened in downtown Lawrence last year. A deal also was in the works by the owners of Coal Vines, another Kansas City artisan pizza joint, to locate a restaurant in downtown in the former Round Corner Drug building. But that project has been very slow to develop, and from people I talk with, it seems uncertain whether it will.

In other news and notes from around town:

• While we’re talking restaurant news, I’ll pass along the latest bit of speculation I’ve heard. A restaurant chain called Raising Cane’s has plans to locate in Lawrence. But don’t look for it to be the other restaurant locating at Sixth and Wakarusa. My understanding is it plans to locate on South Iowa Street. I’ll do a little more work to confirm the location, and then report back.

As far as what Raising Cane’s is all about, that is simple: chicken fingers. Its menu consists of always fresh, never frozen chicken fingers with a special dipping sauce. I think it also serves a chicken sandwich with the sauce, but don’t go looking for any beef there.

• Since we’re talking about restaurants and chicken, I might as well mention this blast from the past as well. How many of you remember Mojo’s, the once popular chicken wing restaurant that was located on Vermont Street? Well, the owners of that now defunct restaurant have signed a deal with the barbecue restaurant Biggs on Mass to bring back the restaurant’s popular selection of wing sauces.

Doug Holiday, owner of Biggs on Mass, told me the restaurant has started serving its smoked chicken wings with Mojo’s Bayou Burn sauce. The plan is for the restaurant to feature a sauce of the month. Mojo’s had more than a dozen sauces for its wings, including one called Phat Elvis.

There were many a night that I went to bed dreaming about Phat Elvis. Now that I see that in print, I realize it may require more explanation. But I have no time for that. I’m off to be part of a panel for Leadership Lawrence this morning, which indeed should cause all of you to worry about the future of Lawrence leadership.