Each week, I try to find a new restaurant in which to dine, and while I enjoy a fine dining atmosphere, my close friends will tell you my weakness is pizza! Combining this casual cuisine with the amenities of good service and fine wine can be a challenge, but there seems to be some competition in Palm Desert. With the success of Piero’s Pizza Vino and California Pizza Kitchen, Wolgang Puck has opened Wolfgang’s Pizza Bar, offering a full bar, decent wines and great food.
When I first happened upon this restaurant, I was impressed with the ambiance and genuine greetings from the smiling host staff. While waiting for my guest, I would enjoy a cocktail from their bar, which is a focal point in the main dining area. The bartenders are welcoming and engaging. I could have enjoyed my meal right there at the bar but opted for a seat on the patio as the weather was perfect.
We were promptly greeted by our busser and then server. The menu is large, offering not only great pizza selections, but also fresh fish, chicken and pasta. We would begin with Crispy Calamari, which was fried but very tender with a delicious aioli. We would also enjoy the Hummus appetizer with crisp flatbread. Both starters were light and prepared well. After more deliberation on the menu and some great conversation with a friend, we would share their hearty Beet Salad with arugula and goat cheese. Everything was delicious and well-presented.
Normally, I would order a pizza full of savory meats and cheeses but I was intrigued by their signature pizza, Wolfgang’s Classic Smoked Salmon. This entrée is not served piping hot like other pizza selections on the menu; rather, it is cool, topped with a dill cream cheese and thinly sliced smoked salmon, topped with chives and salmon roe. It was as colorful as it was delicious. While I was enjoying each and every bite of this entrée, I kept thinking, “I don’t care what other pizzas are on this menu because I will order this again.” My friend would try a pasta dish, Cavatappi tossed with chicken, mushrooms and peas in a creamy goat cheese alfredo sauce. Having tried the pasta, I would say it was okay but lacked the “wow” factor I had expected. It was simple, with no definitive layers of flavor. I ordered a pizza to go, so that I could try another item and after later trying the Roasted Wild Mushroom pizza, I am convinced that they have found their niche. It was rich with mushrooms, cheese and a hint of truffle oil, accented with spinach.
The dessert selections included typical favorites like chocolate cake, cobbler and panna cotta but there was one that was unique, adding to an experience as opposed to just dinner. We would share a “Build Your Own Sundae” that would be made table side from their Sundae cart. We could choose from four ice cream flavors and several toppings including fresh berries, buts and sauces. It was quite a presentation that captured the attention of diners and those passing by.
The management was attentive, checking on our dining experience throughout the evening and our server was always smiling, something I always appreciate when dining out. Overall, I would say this was a great meal, paired with great company! A full menu is available at www.wolfgangpuck.com and they do not take reservations for small parties. Wolfgang’s Pizza Bar is located at 73-130 El Paseo in Palm Desert and is closed Monday and Tuesday each week.