The True & Tasty Story of
Wichita’s Best Pizza
Picture it: Orlando, 1979…
…where brothers Pat and Tim Knolla dreamed of something better. They dreamed of leaving their careers with a corporate pizza chain behind and taking their future into their own hands. They wanted to make pizzas the New York way—where pizza dough is worked by hand and the pizzeria owners know their customers by name.
So, Pat and Tim packed up their bags and their dreams and headed to NYC to study with the best.
Freedom From Corporate Pizza
The best were a pair of Sicilian brothers whose pizza was renowned across the city. The brothers’ only stipulation was that Pat and Tim couldn’t open a pizzeria within 30 city blocks of their own store.
The Knolla brothers worked side by side with their mentors, mastering the finer points of a special French bread style crust and mouth-watering sauce—not too spicy, and just a little bit sweet. They learned to put whole milk mozzarella on first before the toppings, because 95% of the slices sold in NYC were cheese. (Knolla’s Pizza customers today have the option to ask for the cheese on top by saying “flip the cheese!”) They learned never to skimp on the freshest, tastiest toppings.
Above all, the Sicilian brothers shared the importance of a personal touch:
“If the dough isn’t made fresh daily and worked by hand, it can’t be pizza.”
Knolla’s Pizza Comes to Wichita
Tim opened the first Knolla’s Pizza in Orlando, Florida in 1979. The Knolla brothers relocated to Wichita, where Tim opened the first of several Knolla’s Pizza locations. In 1988, Pat opened a Knolla’s Pizza at Central and Oliver, which later moved to 13th and West in 1995.
Everybody Loves Pizza
In 2005, authors Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby released their book “Everybody Loves Pizza: The Deep Dish on America’s Favorite Food.” This celebration of America’s favorite dish features recipes, trivia, and a list of 540 of the best pizza places in the country.
Gaining Loyal Customers
More important than the national recognition were the growing number of local Knolla’s Pizza fans. In 2005 and 2006, the Knolla family opened two more locations—one at Central and Ridge, and another at Central and Rock in Piccadilly Square. They later opened a fourth location in Maize, Kansas in 2013.
A Legacy 35 Years and Counting
Carrying on the tradition and honoring their father, Pat’s daughters opened a fifth location in downtown Wichita in June 2020. This new location in the very heart of Wichita is the culmination of a long-held dream for the Knolla family.
Today, all four Wichita Knolla’s locations are independently owned and operated by several Knolla family members, with the help of great staff and the loyalty of treasured customers—many of whom they know by name.
And just as the Knolla brothers learned so long ago, the toppings are still generous, the sauce is not too sweet and not too spicy, and the dough is still made fresh and worked by hand, every day.