Situated in the middle of residential Rockrimmon, Wyatt's Pub & Grill benefits not only from a menu that leans more bistro than bar, but also from a good selection of microbrews and a welcoming atmosphere catering to familial types.
Exposed brick and light wood fill the remodeled former space of Piazza Wine Bar and Pizzeria and, before that, Slayton's Barbeque and Creamery, which were both owned by Randy Price (whose Rocky Mountain Restaurant Group includes Salsa Brava and Sonterra Grill). Looking to dump the underperforming location, Price sold to Todd and Renee Wyatt earlier in the year, who partnered with Mike Davis of Back East Bar & Grill to port his concepts across Interstate 25.
"We've tweaked some of [the recipes] a little bit, but for the most part they're all from [Back East]," says Wyatt's manager, Ana Culpepper.
And, for the most part, they work just as well here as at the menu's Briargate source. The only major problem for me was a bland ground beef, found in an otherwise vibrant teriyaki and pineapple Aloha Burger ($9.50), as well as a thusly fatally flawed taco salad ($7.95) of tomatoes, black olives, salsa and sour cream.
On the upside, the latter included a nice, fresh guacamole, made in-house — a recurring theme at Wyatt's.
"I would say 95 percent of the stuff, we make in-house," Culpepper says. "I mean, we make our own tortilla chips, we make the green chili in-house, we make the artichoke dip here; all of our sauces, for the most part."
Thankfully — whether as a result of having the gift of time-tested recipes, or culinary aptitude — the house does well. It shows off a great crust and a tangy tomato sauce in its pies, like the orgy of meat and cheese known as the Ultimate Pizza (12-inch, $16.95). Guaranteed to soak up anything the sodden can imbibe, the pie tops out with thinly sliced steak, more tame ground beef (and lots of it), bacon, green peppers, onions, jalapeños and mozzarella. It comes off more like a Lasagna School reject, but it's very tasty.
If fried food's the call, rejoice: Everything that met hot oil, rocked. Jumbo shrimp ($8.95) battered with Fuller's London Pride beer pop hot and steamy, while three large filets of breaded Swai ($10.95) — a farmed catfish endorsed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch — split into compelling flakes of creaminess. Even the wings ($4.25) succeed, coming large, cheap and spicy in a buttery hot sauce.
And the sandwich options stand strong. Four sliders ($7.95) with grilled onions and white cheddar are surprisingly flavorful in their simplicity, while the real highlight comes with the Twister ($8.95): a large, soft pretzel roll crackling with salt chunks, split with piles of juicy roast beef and topped with a great mild queso, made in-house. It's Arby's-meets-Le-Cordon-Bleu, and could only be improved by swapping Sysco's rolls with those from Wimberger's Old World Bakery and Delicatessen (where they do God's work).
Dessert-wise, the cheesecake ($4.25), also à la Sysco, is a last, rare miss. The syrupy strawberries are as much a blight as an ordering option, while its weird thick texture is more reminiscent of chewing gum than cream cheese.
But taken all together, the things that don't work matter much less than the things that do, especially in a genre that typically thinks that the mere existence of food means a job well done. At Wyatt's, it actually is.
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