The building on the southwest corner of First and State in Ankeny that currently houses the Wheel House Pizzeria and Pub has a storied history, having been previously the site of a bowling alley that had been around since the 1960s, but had fallen into hard times and eventually closed in 2011.
On my first visit I spied a bottle of Absolut Cilantro behind the bar. Intrigued I ordered up a shot and struck up a conversation with the barkeep about what kind of cocktail this would work with. I had an idea about a salsa Martini, and before I knew it a cocktail was superbly made on the fly. With cilantro and citrus vodkas shaken with tomato juice, it tastes like an elegant salsa. All this needs is a cocktail onion, and perhaps a rub of cut jalapeno on the inside of the glass.
But what had brought me to the Wheel House in the first place was word-of-mouth at the Yankee Clipper about the Egg Roll pizza – an inspired fusion of Italian/Asian cuisine – with sliced egg rolls, Graziano's Italian sausage, and just enough teriyaki and Sriracha mixed in the red sauce for umami and zest.
Another pizza I tried was the Traveler – which is practically a Greek salad – replete with spinach, kalamata olive and copious feta, plus beef, onion, mushroom, and diced tomato. The beef doesn't stand out much on this veggie-laden build, bursting with the pungent flavor of feta cheese. I'd suggest skipping the beef if you're looking to go vegetarian.
On my next visit I sampled the polar opposite of the Traveler – the Carnivore. Built with Italian sausage, both streaky and Canadian bacon, beef and pepperoni, the Carnivore brought on the meat sweats.
All three pizzas I tried were on the blonde side. If you like more browning on your pizza, I'd suggest asking for a well bake.