No one uses the expression “location, location, location” just because it’s fun to say.
When I circled through Lumina Commons in search of Spicoli—Wrightsville Beach’s newest landing zone for pizzas, burgers and wings—I was certain I took a wrong turn. I was on the lookout for a divey joint. Instead of a cheap, cheesy, rundown strip mall, I found myself in a renovated, new shopping center, near an epicurean shop (I’m lookin’ at you, Seasoned Gourmet) in the uppercrust of Landfall.
While the shopping center in question may be targeted toward suburban soccer moms—who probably don’t plan on crushing Dos Equis pitchers, $3 Fireball shots and $1 wings—it doesn’t mean Spicoli won’t bring in a crowd. With an enticing menu, a fun atmosphere and attentive customer service, they’re on the right track.
Their Facebook page describes the vibe as a “pizza place and sports bar”—the latter being a term I found quite deceiving. “Sports bar” brings to mind infinite rows of ESPN-blaring televisions and a bar so big, patrons can lose track of their slightly buzzed friends. With a couple of booths and a quaint, cozy bar, Spicoli is simply a rad little restaurant serving up killer wings and an ‘80s (early ‘90s) vibe. Any wannabe-retro bro who sports Sanyo boomboxes and digs vintage arcade games will fit right in.
As I prepared myself for this hearty meal, I began by doing some girl math (AKA: when I order something green to cancel out something bursting with cheese). I studied the dressings and hesitantly selected the “house” vinaigrette. It’s an adjective that intrigues me: Typically a “house” item is an eatery’s homemade version of this or that. While I appreciate the salad’s generous size and unexpected ingredients (well, hello there, artichokes!), the dressing wasn’t made-in-house after all. The server told me it was a roasted garlic Italian-style vinaigrette. It certainly was Italian. Oh, how I Wishbone for restaurants to step up their dressing game. Good news: Spicoli gained back a good rank in the land of ranch. But more on that later.
Since Spicoli proudly parades “pizzas, burgers and wings” as the subtitle of their Facebook page, choosing what to review came easy. I embarked on my feast. First up: the wings.
The buttery Buffalo sauce was exactly as it should be, but word to the wise: On a scale of mild to ouch, I would rate this spicy sauce a medium. Tame tummies beware.
The Korean BBQ wings were dark, sticky, and although satisfying, they could have benefitted from a bigger punch of flavor. As for the chicken itself, the meat was jumbo, succulent and superbly cooked. Alongside came the usual dipping suspects (ranch and blue cheese)—and made from scratch! The blue cheese offered a subtle, but tasty creamy funk, and the ranch deserved a round of applause. The dressing was light, airy and loaded with garlic—miles away from the overly processed, goop-ified bottled junk most restaurants use.
While scanning my choices for an 8-ounce burger, it was “bourbon bacon jam” or bust. I placed my order for a medium-rare Mahoney. Though slightly undercooked—teetering along the lines of rare—the meat was juicy and the bacon jam tasted blissfully sweet. However, when talking temp, I prefer underdone to the other extreme. The burger brimmed with rich caramelized onions.
As for the fries? Homerun! No sad, limp, frozen-to-fryer disappointments. Spicoli slices each potato and (I can only assume) double fries to achieve that epic golden-brown exterior. Topped with a healthy dose of seasoning, these hand-cut wedges could hold their own against downtown staple Copper Penny. Not an easy task if you ask … well, anyone.
I was ready for the grand finale. The Ramp Locals pizza—starring clams and caramelized onions—was calling my name. Seeing as Spicoli specializes in “bar food,” after all, I wanted to test their gourmet game. The pie was dusted with fragrant fresh oregano, creamy ricotta, bacon, and sharp provolone. The crust was thin—without being thin crust. It had a crisp exterior and delicate chewy bite. Each topping worked in perfect harmony together. I was mildly shocked to see such a sophisticated pie at a place pawning $2 Coors Lights, but, hey, I’m not complaining.
I think Spicoli will find a customer base with ease. It’s ideal for WB locals’ late-night cheeseburger cravings, but works just as well for dinnertime family meals.
On a final note, Spicoli offers nightly specials, but patrons may want to call ahead to double check them. While browsing their Facebook two weeks back, I discovered that Tuesdays featured $10 specialty pizzas. When I specifically swung by on a Tuesday, I was surprised to find the half-price option was plain cheese. But thanks to their righteous ranch, all is forgiven.