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Wings Are A Pizza Da Chicken That Make A Tasty Alternative

Call it the war of the wings.

A couple of competitive pizza purveyors recently introduced their versions of buffalo chicken wings.

Domino’s and Little Caesar’s are obviously looking to expand their customer base, and the wings do offer a good alternative - or addition - to pizza.

First, a little background on the buffalo wing phenomenon.

Buffalo wings were so named after a blizzard hit that city in New York state and stranded patrons at a bar. (I can think of worse places to ride out a storm.)

Hungry customers had to make do with a meal whipped up using the scant available ingredients. Chicken wings were cooked in a spicy hot sauce and served with celery and blue cheese dressing.

That was in 1964 and the rest is, of course, culinary history. Since then, wings have become standard fodder for appetizers under various guises including cajun, Asian, curry, French, Mexican, teriyaki and on and on, ad nauseam.

So, it’s not surprising the pizza people would eventually get around to seeing if wings would fly. What’s surprising is that the wings are awfully good.

Domino’s offers a spicy or mild version as well as a barbecue style. They’re available in 10-, 20- and 30-piece orders. And when I ordered them, they were happy to make half the order spicy and half barbecue.

At Little Caesar’s, wings can be made mild, medium or hot. The spicy version supplied a nice amount of heat, but nothing that would send you running for the Tums. They offer orders of 10, 20 or 30 pieces.

I took an assortment of wings from both places to a party and they disappeared quickly.

A delicious discovery

Taking a shortcut home, I spied a hidden gem.

Piccolo’s Cafe is tucked behind the Italian market of the same name and has actually been around for more than a year.

But recently, the management hired a new chef, who has made the Italian menu a bit more upscale. And they’re now calling it Ristorante Piccolo. (Prices are even listed in lire, in addition to dollars, though it’s not clear whether exchange rates are adjusted as currency values rise and fall.)

Paul Kunze, who had previously cooked at Amore and Fugazzi, has come up with an ambitious menu that includes a veal dish with red pepper coulis, artichoke hearts, gorgonzola and goat cheeses in a white wine sauce and pollo amichi, which is chicken, pancetta and spinach in a creamy white wine sauce.

Pasta sauces range from a marinara to the basil-based pesto and the pungent puttanesca, which combines sun-dried tomatoes, capers and olives. Diners choose from among five shapes of pasta including fat fettucine noodles or the delicate capellini.

What makes this cozy little spot such a find are the prices. Everything is under $10 and that includes a house salad and bread. Many items are under $6.

Piccolo’s is located at N1420 Napa, just off Mission. For reservations, call 534-8216.

Small bites

Eat Rite will again be serving vegetarian meals in its new location, N2303 Washington, starting Monday. The spot was previously home to a theater group for a number of years. The new Eat Rite phone number is 325-1957.

Under new ownership, Kenkona is now serving Mexican food in addition to its grilled teriyaki items. Grilled chicken and steak skewers are available with side dishes such as rice, beans and tortillas. Seating has also been added at what was once only a takeout restaurant. Kenkona is located at W1104 Wellesley. The phone number is 327-1234.

Toro Viejo, the popular familyrun Mexican restaurant in Coeur d’Alene, has opened a second eatery in Hayden Lake. It’s located at 9510 Government Way. The phone is 772-0291.

Barney Ballard, the original proprietor at The Cupboard in Sandpoint, is back in the kitchen. He had sold the restaurant last summer, but the new owners left town abruptly. So, Ballard is once again making his satisfying, creative dinners.

The Village Inn on West Francis has recently undergone a face lift. Welcome new additions include comfy booths, a spiffy dessert and espresso bar and a brighter waiting area. It still offers one of the best breakfast bargains outside of Las Vegas (where 99-cent steak and eggs are a big draw).

Studio K has been serving Thai food for several years now. But few would have suspected this venerable steakhouse had a split personality until a new sign advertising this unusual combination was erected recently at the Lincoln Heights eatery.

Several restaurants have recently closed including Rice Time Express (both downtown and West Francis locations) and, just across the street downtown, The Post Street Bar and Grille, a popular restaurant that always seemed busy. Also, the Dove Tail Inn in Elk is no more.

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