Kava Korner - Trucksville

Kava Korner Provides a Unique Experience and Delicious Affordable Food

Kava Korner is a unique little restaurant and non-alcoholic bar that first caught my attention with it's round pan fried pizza that came highly recommended by the NEPA Nation.  Before heading there, I didn't know much about the place other than their food offerings all looked incredible on social media and that it was located in the town of Trucksville, home of several pan fried pizza heavyweights!  My intentions for this review were simple, call in an order, pick it up, and review in the pizza mobile on the run as I frequently do.  I ended up with a much different experience than I expected.  I learned a ton and enjoyed the heck out of myself!  Actually, the entire first family of NEPA Pizza enjoyed themselves too after I called them in out of the car to stay a while!

UPDATE: Kava Korner is no longer serving Pizza
Now, to understand Kava Korner, we will start with the restaurant itself.  When you first walk in, you see a bar to your left and a small dining area with about four tables.  The place has an intimate island vibe to it with bamboo and tiki statues adorning the walls and bar.  There is quite a bit to take in for a first timer, which is where the awesome staff came into play.  We were greeted by a trio of gentlemen who were all extraordinarily friendly and hospitable.  They made us all feel right at home and really knew their business inside and out.  Right out of the shoot, the bartender let us know that every kid gets a slushie for free and offered one to the Pizza Princess who got to choose her own flavor.  I also learned that new customers got to take part in a really cool social toast involving chanting the word "bula" and drinking Kava Kava from a cocunut which was really cool.  It was at this point that I realized Kava Korner was very different from any other bar or restaurant where I had ever been.  Normally, I probably would have been a little intimidated in walking in such a different atmosphere, but the staff immediately bridged that gap and welcomed us to a point where everything felt familiar and we felt at home.  After all, it isn't often that the First Family of NEPA Pizza finds themselves in a non-alcoholic bar with an ocean vibe participating in island rituals and crushing an earthy drink out of a coconut!

We sat and listened and asked questions and learned about Kava Kava, and there was so much to take in.  As I listened, 
I couldn't help but think that this restaurant would seem to fit in neatly as a case study in the books about leadership, management, and organizational culture and habits I enjoy reading.  The owner wasn't there on this day, but the employees all knew their exact roles, spoke with authority and knowledge about every single menu item, drink, custom, and aspect of the operation.  It was impressive to see such empowerment and ownership of their roles and responsibilities as well as an understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it.  I have yet to meet the owner, but judging by the culture he has created and how highly the employees speak of him, he probably knows a thing or two about operations and leadership!  

I am planning an additional visit to create a more in-depth video look into this unique little business, because this review could go on for pages and pages, and I try to keep them relatively short for the reader.  With the backdrop of what kind of place we are at established, let's talk about the pizza and stromboli!  The pizza is described at Kava Korner's "own spin on the Back Mountain fried crust" which they make in a round form.  To my knowledge, no one else is doing a round fried pizza in the area so it's always exciting to try something a little different.

The Pizza Review

The pizza came out looking neatly crafted and perfectly cooked with a nice browning both on the crust and cheese.  The crust is not billed to be a Sicilian crust like the Victory Pigs and Pizza L'Ovens of the Wyoming Valley and it does not have the large bubbles and texture variations that these thicker trays do.  It is, in fact a little bit different.  The crust is soft and slightly chewy with a tight sponge (smaller air pockets) that is crispy on the bottom and has a slight fried texture and good flavor.  One question that I get all the time with a fried pizza is "Is it greasy?"  I can definitively say this pizza was not greasy.  The sauce had some deep and somewhat bold flavors to it to contrast the cheese and crust.  They were also pretty generous with the sauce, but not over the top with it which I appreciated because in many cases I enjoy a saucy pie.  Finally, the cheese had some sharpness to it and a little bit of saltiness.  My guess would be some sort of mozzarella cheddar blend.  Overall, the pizza was quite good and a little on the unique side.  I'd compare the crust more to Pizza Guys of Carbondale, Angie's Pizza, or a thinner Andy's Pizza than I would to the the aforementioned Pan Fried Pizzerias and I think it's pretty cool that Kava Korner is bringing some different elements to the Back Mountain pizza scene.

The Stromboli Review

These days I find that I'm not much of an undercover pizza critic as the pizza review grows, so when I called ahead to announce my arrival, I found that Kava Korner wanted to put their philly cheesesteak stromboli to the test as well.  I'm traditionally a pizza only review guy, but I do enjoy the heck out of a good stromboli and have made thousands of them over the years so call me qualified to review their boli!  As I waited in anticipation for the boli, I learned that it is made with in-house freshly shaved top sirloin steak and the dough is also made fresh daily, which I understand is a hallmark of everything on Kava Korner's menu.

The stromboli came out cut into neat little slices to make it easy to eat.  The dough was stretched thin and evenly which is one key to a good stromboli.  If you have too much crust it gets gummy and the inside never cooks properly from being insulated by all the dough.  The exterior was quite flavorful as it was presumably oiled and then seasoned.  As good as the crust was, the real all-star here was the steak - as it should be in a cheesesteak stromboli.  The sliced sirloin was so very tender and flavorful.  There was no gristle and virtually no grease which typically comes with a frozen or processed steak.  It was quite apparent that this was fresh and high quality steak.  The whole thing was supported by just the right amount of what I thought was perhaps an American cheese.  The ratio of dough-to-steak-to-cheese (and added mushrooms and onions) were just right and I simply could not find a flaw to deduct any points which resulted in me giving this a 5 Star Rating as you can see below.  

The Bottom Line

Overall, Kava Korner provided us with a totally unexpected and unique experience that we've never had before.  We learned a lot about some different traditions and ingredients that I had not encountered before.  Truthfully, without a little bit of an open mind and some interaction with the super accommodating staff, I can see where some people might not understand this place or its vibe.  If you are hesitant for change but want to give it a try, I'd recommend going at a bit of an off time like we did (just before dinner hours) because it is a small dining/bar space with limited capacity, but more importantly it will give you a chance to talk shop with the staff and learn about the product and experience they are trying to deliver.  It does have a bit of an alternative feel, and I believe that is deliberately designed.  Just don't allow the feel to confuse you to thinking Kava Korner is for an alternative audience.  Our 11 year old Pizza Princess got a free slushie as soon as she walked in the door, and both she and the 9 month old Pizza Prince were very welcomed by the staff and had a lot of fun.  

These folks understand who they are and what they want to be, and I think it will be evident to the NEPA Nation when they give it a try.  The pizza and stromboli were both very good and the rest of the menu looks tremendous and is very reasonably priced with large portions.  So if you're looking for something that's a little different or to just grab some great takeout from a small business in the area that is sure to satisfy, be sure to check out Kava Korner.  You might just find yourself chanting "BULA" and drinking out of a coconut and have a cool story to tell!  Have you tried Kava Korner?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The PizzRating

Restaurant: Kava Korner
Location: Trucksville, PA
Date: July 2019
Eat In/Take Out: Eat In
Pizza Ordered: 14" Round Pizza
Price: $9.99

Crust: 4/5
Sauce: 3.75/5
Cheese: 4/5
Overall Taste: 4/5
Crispy/Cooked Properly: 5/5
Overall Value: 5/5
Similar to: Pizza Guys of Carbondale, Angie's Pizza, Keeley's Alehouse

The Stromboli Rating

Ordered: Philly Cheesesteak Stromboli
Price: $12.99
Crust and Seasoning: 5/5
Dough/Steak/Cheese Proportions: 5/5
Steak Quality: 5/5
Overall Taste: 5/5
Crispy/Cooked Properly: 5/5


Trucksville 4752719890309394358

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