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Venue Review: Newk's Express Cafe

Pizza, unique 'Q' debut well
(no rating)
Newk's Express Cafe
By "Robin Hall Domeier, Special to the Observer"
The Charlotte Observer

9815 Rea Road, in the Blakeney Crossing shopping center.

More infor about restaurant

In January, reader Charlie Malouf dropped me a line.

"I'm from Mississippi, and I just heard that my favorite fast casual café from Mississippi is coming to Charlotte this year," wrote Malouf.

I hadn't heard of Newk's Express Café - but after Malouf's rather passionate e-mail exhorting me to try a restaurant that, as it turned out, wouldn't open until nearly eight months later, I felt compelled to go.

The pizzas (don't miss the deluxe version) are a definite must-have. Salads, sandwiches (we tried an interesting "BBQ" sandwich), soups and desserts (the caramel cake was spot on) round out the menu. Most items ran $7-$8.50, so making our $25-for-two budget was no problem.

Newk's dining room is loud though not annoyingly boisterous. It felt kind of good just to sit at the restaurant, located on Rea Road, in the Blakeney Crossing shopping center.

According to www.newkscafe.com, the same team of people who founded McAllister's Deli created Newk's. The menus are much different, but there are similarities in customer service. Place your order at a counter, get a number and the food is brought to you. Newk's was packed on the day we went, but we only waited for our food about 15 minutes.

Newk's "Q" sandwich puts an interesting twist on the chicken sandwich. A grilled chicken breast - with a hint of smokiness - was sliced and placed on a crusty roll along with applewood smoked bacon and Swiss cheese.

There was a white barbecue sauce on the sandwich. According to a server we asked, the white sauce "is spiced similarly" to a traditional tomato-based barbecue sauce. Newk's manager said the sauce is mayonnaise based, but the sandwich could have used more because it got a bit dry after a while.

Newk's has soups of the day. We got the crab and lobster bisque. I tasted more of the crab and lobster than I actually saw. There were a few strands of meat here and there. Still, the soup possessed a nice silkiness.

Pizzas were 10 inches in size and are the thin-crust variety. I loved, loved, loved the deluxe version with ham, Mortadella sausage, pepperoni, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, portabella mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, mozzarella and provolone cheeses. You'd think the crust would collapse under the weight of all the ingredients, but it was surprisingly sturdy.

Newk's offered several varieties of cake by the slice. The yellow cake with caramel icing brought back memories of the caramel icing my grandmother would make in her iron skillet. Cake slices were chilled, so if you get a piece, let it sit on the table and come to room temperature.

The cake and the pizza were enough to get me almost as excited about Newk's. My final bill of $24.80 made me pretty happy, too.

Reviews & Comments
CRITICS REVIEWS
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(no rating) Dec. 9, 2009 - The Charlotte Observer - Robin Hall Domeier, Special to the Observer

The pizzas (don't miss the deluxe version) are a definite must-have. Salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts (the caramel cake was spot on) round out the menu.

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USER REVIEWS
(no rating) Jun 03, 2011 - JacksonState
Mississippi Boy in Charlotte

Newk's is very good! I frequently visit the one in uptown. Excellent staff and food! Tell Matt I sent you!

Dec 10, 2009 - nyc2clt
I must disagree, this is not the place for pizza.

This is not the place to go for pizza. I found the pizza to be dry, tasteless and pretty much lacking everything a pizza should have. I tried the Margherita. My philosophy is to try pizza in purest state, without any toppings to cloud the taste and texture.

The crust was like a cracker, no delicateness to the crust at all. On its own the crust was verging on inedible. Save for the tomato sauce, which tasted like jarred sauce left out overnight to dry out into a thick glue like paste, the crust was more akin to a matzoh. Pizza is about the crust not the toppings. Loading a pizza up with toppings, to rescue the crust, is not my idea of a good pizza.

The cheese, atop the tomato paste, was so thick it detached itself from the pizza with every bite -- almost as if it was an after thought. There was no melding of the the tomato paste or the cheese.

Lastly, why did they add the basil or unripe tomatoes to the top of the pizza? The just fall off with even the slightest movement of the pizza.

I can see one "loved", but three? If you want pizza, or should I say like pizza, this is not the place to go!

Dec 09, 2009 - mark17
Newk's is Good

This place is great. Best salads and pizza. Huge portions. Great sandwiches. Free bread sticks. I was impressed. Glad to have it in NC.


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