Last year, on a mission to review Sleepy Creek Vineyard’s Friday night Wieners and Wine event, my family and I found a place on the way that serves a stunning variety of the Madison, WI-based Chocolate Shoppe brand of ice cream. Floored by this discovery, I became determined to return some day to review Obie’s Arctic Chill on its own merits.
After researching, it seemed like pizza was their most popular offering. My plan was to order ours when were at Urbana’s edge, thinking the remaining 20 minutes until our arrival would give them plenty of time to cook up the pie. My order was quickly and politely taken, but I was informed that the Friday night rush meant that the pizza wouldn’t be ready for about 45 minutes to an hour (this, I reasoned, was a good sign). As we meant to take our pizza to Sleepy Creek Vineyards for wieners and wine, enjoy it there, and stop for ice cream on the way home, I had to change our plan on the fly. Wieners/wine first, followed by pizza — which they assured us could be ready by our newly-selected time, and it was — then ice cream.
Side note: if the weather is fine, it’s never a bad idea to spend part of your Friday evening at Sleepy Creek Vineyards. Also, they’ve added giardiniera to their hot dog toppings, just when I thought I couldn’t dig their vibe any more.
When we got to Obie’s at exactly the appointed time (7 p.m.), I noted that the drive-thru was full. The pick-up window wasn’t exactly slammed, and the pavillion behind the restaurant only had a table or two occupied. I'm not sure what to conclude from all of this; I just think it’s interesting to note for future visits.
Our total for a 16-inch all sausage, half mushroom pizza with a large Diet Coke and two ice waters was $13.75. The gal working the counter had to hold the pizza box at a diagonal to get it through the window, which made me a little nervous, but as you can see, all of the toppings stayed put. Not pictured: the pizza was wrapped in foil inside the box, which I imagine would keep it nicely warm should you decide to take yours back to C-U or somewhere else a short drive away.
I can enjoy most pizzas, but I’m picky about the ones I’ll go out of my way for. I’m putting Obie’s in the “definitely want to try again” category. Although I think we realized this around the same time, I have to give my husband credit for being the first to compare it to Jupiter’s; the crust is uncannily similar.
Strange as it may sound, I think I enjoyed the smell the most. It took me back to my childhood and the thrill of a pizza celebration after another miserable season giving softball a try.
The flavor matched my expectations, with maybe a couple of exceptions: the sausage bits were tiny and, if I had to guess, pork rather than beef (beef sausage being my preference), and my spice addiction made me crave red pepper flakes. Obie's may have red pepper flakes; I didn’t ask.
The price floored me, in the good way. Next time we’ll get two smaller pizzas and have a little more fun with the topping selection now that I know it won’t cost a small fortune to do that, and that the pies will likely stay hot long enough to take them home. Speaking of the payment, please note that Obie's takes credit/debit cards as well as cash.
Now, on to the ice cream: this is one of those places that doesn’t know the definition of “small.” That is generous and awesome of them, but plan to share — or not — accordingly.
I chose two Chocolate Shoppe flavors (Yippee Skippee and Heaps of Love) — one “small” scoop of each — a banana split with soft serve, and a small soft-serve chocolate for my youngest, setting us back $12.40 in total. As expected, the Chocolate Shoppe offerings were worth the drive. Both varieties come with various chocolatey and other sweet/salty chunks, but as the name implies, Yippee Skippee is peanut butter-based, giving it perhaps a slight edge in head-to-head competition.
Every Chocolate Shoppe flavor I’ve gotten — let’s say 5 different varieties in all — has sounded like it would come positively loaded with bits and pieces, but I don’t think that’s really their style. The bits are there, but they’re more an accent to the ice cream itself, which is both lightly sweet and densely decadent.
The banana split was as pleasing to the eye as it was to the tastebuds. I wish I’d thought to customize the toppings; I’d forgotten from my time as a Dairy Queen that chocolate syrup, strawberry, and pineapple are standard. Those were all good, but I would prefer fudge, strawberry, and caramel or butterscotch. My guess is they’d be happy to substitute.
Our overall impression is that Obie’s has an eye for quality. Factor in the low prices, and the result is a great food road trip.
Obie's Arctic Chill
102 S Oakwood St
T-Th 3 to 9 p.m.
F 3 to 9:30 p.m.
Sa 2 to 9:30 p.m.
Su 2 to 9 p.m.
Photos by Rachael McMillan