The signature pizza at The Other Place,
12401 University Ave., Clive, 225-9494. Hours
are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight
and Friday through Saturday, 11 to 2 a.m.
The opening of The Other Place Sports Grill
and Pizzeria in Clive ranked with the debuts
of Whole Foods and Twin Peaks for creating the
summer’s biggest buzz. Since this chain’s first
store opened on College Hill in Cedar Falls
in 1970, it’s become part of northern Iowa mythos
with six restaurants there, plus a pair in the
Kansas suburbs of Kansas City. College town
pizzerias and sports bars seem to forge lifelong
bonds with their fans. The Other Place’s Overland
Park store in Kansas was a pioneer sports bar.
The Clive restaurant is a modernized, swank
version of that place, with little resemblance
to the original place on The Hill.
Nostalgia is as powerful an attraction as cold
beer. The Clive Other Place and its super-sized
parking lot were filled from the day it opened,
and crowds have grown since then. This store
is state-of-the-sports-bar-art with ubiquitous
large, high definition flat screens and every
major satellite sports package. The crowds I
observed on weekend evenings were considerably
more family-oriented than anything one sees
in typical college town sports bars. That might
be because the food was a stronger draw than
the bar. Like the finest fresh and local restaurants
in town, The Other Place proudly displayed the
branded icons of its suppliers. These were not
the same suppliers you will see on menus at
Mojo’s, Sbrocco or Centro, though. Heinz, Hormel,
Jenni-O, Hidden Valley, Red Bull, Pepsi and
Mountain Dew represent the aegis of quality
Basically, the kitchen specializes in two things
— scratch fried foods and pizza. Their execution
of the first genre was excellent by any standards.
On two visits, I never observed a single order
of hand-breaded, fried foods that were darker
than light golden. Onion rings were as light
and crunchy as they come. Chicken tenders, fries,
kettle chips, shrimp, Mozzarella sticks, mushrooms
and pork tenderloins were pretty much faultless.
Pizza wasn’t for everyone. Nearly “deep dish”
in thickness, these yeasty pies included excellent
sweet marinara and much cheese. All pizza specials
were loaded with multiple ingredients, as many
as five different meats. The crusts did have
crisp bottoms, but each piece included as much
dough as many sandwiches. After two, I could
only scrape off the toppings. Salads also included
copious amounts of bread and cheese. Other Place
subs were oven baked on similarly yeasty buns.
The menu included some compulsory sports bar
foods that were neither deep fried nor baked
in the pizza ovens — Buffalo wings, nachos,
spinach dip, burgers, four kinds of pasta and
wraps. There were no potato skins — I know this
because their absence from the menu provoked
a wild tantrum in a nearby child.
Bottom line — The Other Place will surely become
The Place for sports fans to watch UNI games
in the future.
Speaking of other places, the Hy-Vee on East
Euclid, also known as Hy-Vee No. 2, is a corporate
legend. This is the store where future CEOs
have been sent to cut their teeth. If they can
make it there, they’ll make it anywhere. In
this store, one sees plain clothed cops patrolling
and electronic shoplifting sensors at the entrances.
It also hosts rather amazing wine dinners prepared
by Dean Richardson, whose Phat Chefs restaurant
ruled West Des Moines for a decade. A recent
event included an appetizer buffet, melon-blue
cheese and arugula salad, a tomba (tuna), fresh
herbs and tomato bruschetta, braised sirloin
tips with fingerling potatoes in a wine and
gravy reduction, and a choice of three cheesecakes.
Thirteen different wines were poured. Several
prizes, including a mini refrigerator, were
raffled. The charge for everything was $10.
Look for similar events monthly.
Cityview is accepting nominations for Central
Iowa’s Ultimate Steak at firstname.lastname@example.org.