Friday, March 14, 2008

Roman Coin Pizza

Restaurant: Varsity Sports Cafe & Roman Coin Pizza
Address: 9735 Q Street, Omaha
Genres: Sports Bar, Pizza, Italian, American
Check Constraints: Pizza costs cannot be split across tickets.
Chain: Yes | More Omaha Locations: Yes (Bellevue)

  • Parmesan Sticks ($5.99)
  • 1/2 order Hot Wings (3.59)
  • Cheese Ravioli (6.99)
    • Cheese on breadsticks (0.50)
  • Fettuccini Alfredo w/ Chicken (8.99)
    • Cheese on breadsticks (0.50)
  • Medium Hand-tossed Chicago Delight (13.49)
    • Sausage, Beef, Pepperoni, Onions, Mushrooms, Black Olives, Green Peppers
  • Medium Hand-tossed Meat Lover's (13.49)
    • Pepperoni, Beef, Bacon, Sausage, Ham
Because we didn't actually split the check, I've recorded the entire check for posterity. That is, for the record, a total of 58 bucks and change, after tax. They accidentally made us a large Chicago Delight, but because it was their mistake, they didn't charge us extra. Right good of 'em. About twelve bucks a person(we were ordering for five), before tip, 13 if you count the upgrade to a large pizza when they don't make a mistake. That was, I should note, -exactly- enough food. There was a single piece of pizza left on the Chicago Delight tray at the end of the feeding frenzy, and everybody was so full that someone ate it almost out of obligation to say we weren't defeated. As far as lunches go, that's a damn good price, especially considering the food we got.

The parmesan sticks and cheese breadsticks were pretty standard baked in a pizza pan then cut breadsticks, but there's something interesting I'll note about the parmesan sticks later on. The cheese ravioli was decent, better than Alex's in Rolla, just a bit higher quality than you could get at your local supermarket. I didn't get to try the hot wings before Cham and Mecha demolished them, sadly, but from the sounds they were making, they were good stuff.

The meat lover's pizza was a masterwork. It was light on the sauce, which I can get behind, as pizza sauce tends to give me acid reflux. It was also light on the sauce because they piled so much meat on it that if they'd put more sauce on, it would have come flooding out of the pizza before they finished piling the stuff on. I could taste every single meat, and they were all pretty good quality meat, certainly better than you'd expect on an average pizza. Especially the ground beef, which was ground very finely and was that sorta crumbly that breaks apart easily when you start chewing and spreads delicious flavor all around. For the cost, this is easily the best meat lover's pizza I've ever had.

I actualy ordered the alfredo for two reasons. One, because I wanted to try it, obviously, but the other being because the rest of the people in this little group love them some shrooms, so I wasn't about to bite into the Chicago Delight. On the down side of this alfredo, it needed garlic. On the up side of this alfredo, it was otherwise neary perfect, and more importantly, they offer actual garlic cloves, chopped up, obviously, as a pizza topping. Presumably you could order some to go with the fettuccini alfredo, and you absolutely should. The chicken alfredo pizza they offer actually lists garlic as a separate ingredient, so I suppose I should have figured by that.

I tested my hypothesis that all this alfredo needed was a bit of garlic by taking one of the garlic-parmesan breadsticks and using it to mop up the sauce off the plate. The result was very nearly perfect alfredo. This alfredo tells me something important, and that's that the people who made the recipes for this place know what they're doing. This alfredo is absolutely perfect for the pizza they put it on, and since pizza is the focus of this place, and pasta a sidelight, it's not surprising that they haven't quite optimized their pasta dishes.

Regardless, you're going to be hard pressed to find such a filling, delicious lunch for this price anywhere else in Omaha. Just be warned, the whole place is smoker friendly, and very much defines "hole in the wall". It seems more spacious than it really is, but when it gets busy, it's going to be crowded, dark, and smoky, so if you can't handle that, you might want to go at an off hour.


Since I'm going to be indisposed shortly, I might as well get this out of the way now. This was a recommendation from Cham and I, as we had gone here once before and had us some excellent pizza for a good price once, and there's no reason not to again.

The Mozzarella cheesesticks are made off of the 'take a pizza, put mozz on it, cut it into pieces' mold, but that doesn't make it bad. The Parmesan seemed a bit more traditional. But both were fine. The Ravioli, as ND mentioned, was, while not amazing, definitely a step above the norm. The wings (Teriyaki flavor) were 6 for 3.60, so not exactly the cheapest things around, but they were cooked full through, the sauce was excellent, the meat very good. Solidly done wings, and while you can definitely get cheaper, it's rare to get much better.

The Meat Lovers and Chicago Delight are both topping heavy (and meat heavy) pizzas, and we did get hand-tossed for both, which is a shame as I sorta wanted to get peoples' opinion on the Chicago Style (for the record, on other visits, I have greatly approved.) The meats were indeed all cooked and cooked well, and all of them have solid flavor profiles. It isn't just there, and it isn't just a mash of flavor that you can't pick apart. The crust is thick enough to not be a cracker, but not particularly thick as such things go. If it weren't cut into squares, I'd say it's more NY style.

Another thing worth noting from a visit perspective is that the place was VERY lightly populated, and yet all the food came out great. That means that they didn't just give us things that were heated up or cooked earlier. It did take a bit for the food to start coming, but when they actually DO make it just for you, and it tastes this good, it's worth the wait. I'm thinking that the fact that it's in a mainly residential section of the city's what makes it empty for lunch, but I'm certainly not complaining about that.

The smokiness is a serious factor, unfortunately, even when there's no smokers there, and while I'm used to the smell of smoke from back in the day, it's not something I enjoy. Also, the place gets fairly busy in the evening, as it is also a sports bar and has drink specials and all that jazz. But the food itself leaves nothing to be desired. Except more pizza. The webpage says they deliver, and I am definitely going to have to check that option out another day.


As Mecha mentions, we've been here previously. The pizza has consistently been delivered warm and tasty, and the food comes in large quantities. When a dish or appetizer says it "comes with bread", they mean "it comes with breadsticks", and that means about half a small pizza's worth. Keep that in mind, because it effectively doubles the size of some of the appetizers, like the ravioli.

Speaking of, I got an odd flavor from the ricotta, but ND and Mecha didn't notice anything. It wasn't bad, per se, just not the flavor I found myself expecting. The wings were "teriyaki" in the sense that Kraft Dinner is "real cheese", but were tasty nonetheless. The breadsticks are delicious and covered with sufficient cheese, and though I didn't enjoy the parmesan ones initially, they grew on me very fast.

The pizzas could be a little larger, perhaps, but they're tasty, and they're priced well for non-national-chain pizzas. You're going to eat cheaper at Papa John's, but you're going to feel worse about yourself afterwards for consuming pizza best left to starving college students, and well you should. You could have enjoyed a pizza topped high with good things! I wouldn't exactly call the pizza "New York Style" as it was not paper thin nor greasy enough to qualify, though I would stick it firmly in the "Midwestern handtossed" range of pizzas, which is where you find a lot of the non-chain joints. It could possibly have had more cheese for my tastes. But then, I like a lot of cheese on my pizza. You'll find that the pizza here reheats well, and though I wouldn't say it's better cold, it's good enough that way for a 3 AM snack.

As noted before, if smoke is an issue, steer clear, but it wasn't too bad at lunch. Certainly not enough to put me off my food.


I had heard of the place before from a co-worker at a previous job. I believe he said it was his favorite pizza. I thought it was pretty good stuff too. I had mostly the Chicago Delight and the breadsticks. The pizzas being piled with toppings and light on sauce brings the focus on the toppings more, which I liked. The crust is relatively thin and crispy, but neither overly thin nor too crunchy. It was really pretty good. Not too greasy. Not too dry.

The cheese sticks were also piled with cheese and quite tasty. The parmesan sticks were really quite good. They just had parmesan, butter and garlic. I was a little worried that they'd be too dry like many non-cheese breadsticks tend to be, but I found they didn't really need the marinara if I didn't want it.

A couple of final notes. The water tasted a little "dirty" to me at first. I'm used to having my Britta filtered water at home though. I didn't really notice any smoke at lunch. I did notice, however, that they had a children's TV channel going over in the corner near the pool table. That tells me that they expect kids for lunch and/or dinner, and they do have a kids menu on the web that I didn't notice while we were there.

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