ADDRESS: 108 W. 6th Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
I was in Bloomington, Indiana this past weekend visiting my high school friends Bryan and Katie (which was also an opportune time to escape all the rainy weather that the hurricane was pushing towards the D.C. area). Bryan raved about some of the food trucks in the local area, with one in particular called “King Dough,” specializing in individual wood-fired pizzas. King Dough got so popular as a food truck that the owners decided to set up shop and open a restaurant. Both Bryan and Katie said that King Dough served some of the best pizza in the area, so we all headed over one night to check out the new restaurant.
You could tell that word got around town the restaurant had opened up since the place was absolutely jam packed. We were initially quoted a 30 to 45 minute wait, but some spots opened up at the “pizza bar,” right in front of where they were making all the pizzas. It looked like no one else was going for them, so we asked if we could snag the spots. Thirty seconds later, we were sitting at the bar and looking over the menu.
There are quite a few options to consider for pizzas (11 in total), with some of them containing more artisan ingredients you wouldn’t find at an average pizza shop, such as prosciutto, gorgonzola cheese, and kalamata olives. We were pretty hungry at that point, but I don’t think that each of us could have downed an entire pizza. Each pizza was about 14″ large, so we ended up splitting two of the pizzas between the three of us: the pepperoni and proscuitto arugula.
The wood-fired oven is on full display in the dining area, and I always like that “open-air” design where you can see the kitchen staff making your food. There are a number of circular and rectangular tables spread out in the space, with a bar area all the way in the back for the 21+ crowd. Two TVs are mounted on the wall opposite from the pizza counter, which could make it a great spot for sporting event weekends.
One of the big benefits with a wood-fired oven is that, if I understand correctly, pizzas should cook in a rapid amount of time because the dome-shaped interior allows for the heat from the burning wood to wash over the top of the pizza, cooking it nice and evenly. We could see the staff cranking out pizza after pizza as the orders came in, and they did a great job keeping up with the orders. Our pizzas arrived after fifteen minutes, which was good time considering the volume of orders they probably had that night.
Both pizzas tasted absolutely delicious. There’s always something about the distinct flavor that a wood-fired oven can give a pizza (similar to cooking on a charcoal grill vs. a gas grill). The dough was tossed just thin enough and cooked just the right amount: the crust was crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside. The arugula leaves were the real star of the show for the prosciutto arugula pizza, giving every slice just the right amount of tartness to break through the sweet flavor from the pizza sauce. The prosciutto added a savory flavor to the pizza, while the cooked egg placed right in the middle of the pizza was a surprisingly good addition. The pepperoni pizza had fresh basil leaves as an additional topping to the meat and pizza sauce, which gave that a bit of a different flavor profile as well. Wow, I’m just getting hungry thinking about it again.
One of the things that dampened our visit to the restaurant was the service, or rather, the lack thereof. We were seated for about 10 minutes with no one coming over to take our drink or food orders. I had to ask the hostess for a waitress, and she promptly sent someone over. Our waitress didn’t apologize for the wait, never introduced herself or welcomed us, but rather just awkwardly stood there until she finally asked if we were ready to order. When we asked questions about pizza sizing or the different menu options, she replied with rather curt responses, almost as if she was annoyed by the questions. At the end of the meal, I actually had to walk our receipt over to the waitress after waiting for five minutes since she never returned to collect it after dropping it off. That certainly didn’t leave a great initial impression, especially considering the restaurant has practically just opened.
It’s the second week of the restaurant’s opening, and it’s apparent that they are still going through some growing pains. However, that being said, it certainly shouldn’t brush aside the poor quality of service that we received during our visit. The food is definitely awesome, there’s no question about that. However, the service definitely left much to be desired and detracted from the overall dining experience at the restaurant.
Let’s now take a look at the King Dough Pizza Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for King Dough:
Food: 5 / 5
By far, some of the best wood-fired pizza I’ve had in a long time. Made with high quality ingredients, the pizzas just tasted fresh and were cooked just right. The flavor combinations of the ingredients layered very well together in the pizzas we tried.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
With the wood-fired oven in the dining area, that let all the smells waft around the room, making everyone who didn’t have any food more hungry, I’m sure. There was also a good amount of lighting set up that generated a good balance in the dining area of not too bright, but not too dark at the same time.
Service: 1.5 / 5
The only saving grace for this segment of the ratings was how quickly our food arrived at the table. If my rating only considered waitstaff service, I would strongly consider a zero, since it practically felt like we had no service at all! Our drinks never got refilled and the waitress was practically nonexistent throughout the entire meal, never stopping by to check how the food was or ask if we needed anything. Probably ranks as the worst service I’ve gotten at a restaurant to date.
Price: 4 / 5
The pizza prices reminded me of a place I know in D.C. that also serves wood-fired pizzas made with high quality ingredients. In the city, I can understand the higher prices. Out here in a college town like Bloomington, I think if the prices would be in a better range if knocked down $1 – $2 or so.