By Laura Reiley
Times Food Critic
ST. PETERSBURG — George and Irene Nikitopoulos don't seem persnickety, or even like wing zealots.
Quietly and without a lot of fuss, they opened Wow Wings in mid April, an independent restaurant competing with a crowd of wing chains. Still, what they're serving is the archetypal Buffalo wing, no question: "Flats" and drummettes, moist-centered and crisp on the outside, with just enough of that vinegary cayenne hot sauce to lend a sheen and make you sniffle. Okay, the blue cheese and celery/carrot sticks are extra (89 cents per order), which may not be regulation. Still, Frank and Teressa Bellissimo, the nearly undisputed inventors of the Buffalo wing back in 1964, would applaud their efforts.
Sandwiched between a Subway and an IHOP, Wow Wings offers other varieties of wow — from hair-singing atomic to lemon pepper dry rub, Thai peanut to chipotle.
The rest is chicken tenders (3 pieces $3.99, 20 pieces $18.99), solid burgers ($3.49 to $4.49) and a delicious warm gyro pita ($5.99), the thin, almost crispy slices of beef-lamb meat tucked in with lettuce, tomato, onion and a slather of lush tzatziki.
Irene, a high school history teacher in Lakewood Ranch, has kitted out the small storefront with historic black-and-white prints, many of her father during his military service. Walls are a cheery tomato color, and the addition of corrugated aluminum wainscoting, simple blondewood chairs and black laminate tables creates a clean and spare effect. Pleasant for eating in (small appetites will be satisfied with a 5-piece order, $3.49; bigger eaters can go for 10 wings, $5.99), Wow Wings seems especially suited to takeout, a 50-piece order ($27.99) promptly filling up the car with the heady aroma of which Buffalonians are so proud.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, can be found at www.blogs. tampabay.com/dining. Reiley dines anonymously and unannounced. The Times pays all expenses. Advertising has nothing to do with selection for review or the assessment.