Whether you’re stopping in to Dayton’s Oregon District or just passing through, Wheat Penny Oven & Bar is a good sample of the city’s burgeoning cool-kid dining scene. The main event at Wheat Penny is the pizza, and you can’t go wrong with the “Taylor Street,” with its Italian pork sausage, spinach, and garlic-braised mushrooms.
The handmade dough is chewy and crusty, the topping combos feel both fresh and classic (case in point: orange-scented Castelvetrano olives with ricotta and toasted almonds on the “Siciliano”). And the restaurant’s 700-degree oven creates plenty of those tasty air pockets that this perpetually-hangry blogger can’t get enough of.
If you’re not afraid of a li’l saturated fat, please order the porchetta sandwich. The pork shoulder is brined for three days, marinated in garlicky sofrito sauce, wrapped in Duroc pork belly, and then hand-trussed (I actually witnessed said trussing; it was a thing of beauty), roasted, and piled onto a Dorothy Lane Market Kaiser roll with arugula and housemade lemon oil.
A fan favorite at Wheat Penny is the eggplant fries: Strips of eggplant with a rice coating and a creamy, tangy yogurt sauce. Your waitress will tell you to order them. I wasn’t a huge fan, as they were overly seasoned, but I can see why they’re popular.
Overall, Wheat Penny is a delight. But I have two quibbles: Everything was just slightly too salty. Except the aforementioned eggplant fries, which were way too salty. But that seems like an easy fix.
And then there’s the décor. There’s a whacky, grandma’s attic thing going on. Which I only noticed because the restaurant’s clever name and hip location had me expecting something, well, cooler. But I still walked away thinking about that porchetta.
515 Wayne Ave., Dayton, (937) 496-5268, wheatpennydayton.com