Drive down First Street in downtown Cheney and you’ll pass a bar, a bar, a bar and oh, the end of town. All right, that’s a bit harsh. The past few years have seen an emergence of small, family-owned restaurants rising alongside old standards like Willow Springs, Gatto’s and China Garden. Zentropa Pizzeria and Pub, located in the building that formerly housed Immix, is the newest business to cater to locals, not just students.
Owners Josh and Tegan Baldwin did some remodeling work — the brick interior now contains booths as well as bistro seating — and kept some areas (namely the bar) intact. The result is a warm neighborhood pub and restaurant, exactly what the owners had in mind. Rotating microbrews are available as well as a selection of regional and Italian wines. These libations fulfill the establishment’s pub requirement (in fact, Zentropa hosts a regional wine tasting on Feb. 22) while the restaurant emphasizes artisanal fare. In the early afternoon, the smell of baking bread fills the eatery.
From 11 am until 4:30 pm, you can buy pizza by the slice ($2.69-$3.49) or choose a special, like two slices and fountain soda for just less than $6. If you stop in for dinner, I suggest you go for the “wedgies” ($3.99). These wedges of house-made pizza dough are topped with garlic butter and cheese. Should you decide against ordering one of the nine thin-crust pizzas ($15.49-$21.99), and instead opt for a sandwich ($5.49/half, $8.59/whole) like the BLT or the mushroom-dressed meatball, you will discover that the bun is made from this very same house-made, chewy, warm pizza dough. Another surprise? The bacon is pancetta bacon, meatier and more delectable. This substance even finds its way into the spinach salad: an oversized bowl stuffed with baby spinach, cranberries, the aforementioned pancetta, feta and balsamic vinaigrette. Caesar salad, with artichoke hearts, and a Greek salad (all salads: $5.49-$8.59) are also available, as are some gigantic calzones ($9.79).
Zentropa’s general manager, Jimmy Lo, traveled with Baldwin to Seattle and Portland for culinary inspiration. Judging from the mix of happily chattering customers, the two have returned victorious.
Zentropa Pizzeria and Pub • 122 College Ave., Cheney • Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm; Sun, noon-8pm • 235-4338