SLACKWATER PIZZERIA & PUB

ADDRESS: 1895 Washington Boulevard, Ogden, UT 84401

After we finished gorging on the dozen donuts that we had bought from Madbrook Donut Company, Tina and I decided to head out and attempt to walk off those donuts on the Ogden River Parkway. The trail itself spanned over 17 miles, but we only tackled a small stretch that we picked up near their apartment. It also gave me the opportunity to break out the DSLR camera I had brought with me to capture some of the beautiful outdoor scenery in that area.

By the time that we finished our walk, it was pretty much getting close to lunchtime. We decided to stick to a nearby spot that both Tina and Mike had been to before: Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub. Pizza and beer, no matter where I’ve gone, always seems to be a winning combination.

Slackwater is situated in a pretty good location right by the main highway running through the town of Ogden, where it also borders the Ogden River Parkway trail that Tina and I had been on earlier. The restaurant has both an indoor and outdoor seating area; since the weather was really nice, we opted to sit outdoors, where you could also partially hear/see the river. I’m not sure if there was some initial confusion on who would be covering our table, since it seemed like a little while before anyone stopped by. But once our waitress came over and welcomed us, the service was smooth after that.

Naturally, one of this place’s specialties was their variety of pizzas, complete with creative names and intriguing ingredient combinations. We were hungry enough though that we decided to start off with their smoked pork nachos and follow that up with some pizzas. In an effort to manage my gout, I went with a vegetarian option and ordered the Piper Pesto, which consisted of a pesto cream sauce, roasted garlic, a mix of cheese, tomatoes, and pine nuts. They went with the Italian Job, loaded up with pepperoni, salami, capicola ham, and some pepperoncinis.

One of the unfortunate things that rather slipped my mind was to get a flight of beers to sample while at Slackwater. I usually like to try the variety, rather than commit myself to a whole pint if I hadn’t tried something yet. It wasn’t before long that our nachos arrived to get things started. A plate of tortilla chips topped with some house-smoked shredded pork, smoked poblano and Anaheim chilis, diced tomatillos, cilantro, a three-cheese blend, chimichurri, and pico de gallo, these nachos certainly pack on the flavor as well as the heat. You definitely get the smoky flavors coming on from a combination of the ingredients, and I think the tortilla chips were actually finished with a light sprinkle of paprika as well that complimented everything. It was certainly a good way to get the tastebuds going.

The kitchen was on top of cranking out the pizzas, because we didn’t actually get to finish all the nachos before they arrived at the table. The pizzas themselves were actually a relatively good size (even for a personal portion), about the same diameter as a large dinner plate. The aromas started to creep up from the pizzas; I didn’t need any more convincing to dive in for the first bite. The crust came out just the way I like it: a slight crisp on the outside with a chewy inside. I think they had the roasted garlic oil brushed on the pizza before they dropped the pesto cream sauce on there, because the way those flavors layered up was really nice. Even though the pine nuts provided a texture contrast to the rest of the pizza, I was a little ambivalent on having them added on there as a topping from a taste perspective. I did like that the feta cheese provided that flavor contrast from the rest of the ingredients as well.

With a nice, casual atmosphere and a wide selection of things to eat & drink, Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub is a great place to hit up whether you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal or relaxing on the weekend. I’m a person that definitely appreciates some crazy combinations when it comes to food, and quite a few of the other pizza options that were on Slackwater’s menu really sounded fascinating (I’m looking at you, Taste of Thai or Tikka Masala). The next time I come out to visit, a pizza sampler (coupled with a high amount of resulting leftover pizza) should definitely be on the agenda.

Let’s now take a look at the Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Char-Tipped Smoked Pork Chili-Verde Nachos **
Shredded house-smoked pork, smoked poblano and Anaheim chilis, tomatillos, and cilantro over a plate of tortilla chips. Finished with a three-cheese blend, chimichurri, and pico de gallo.

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** Piper Pesto **
Pesto cream sauce and roasted garlic base, topped with a three-cheese blend, diced tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta cheese.

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** Italian Job **
Garlic infused olive oil and tomato sauce base with pepperoni, salami, capicola ham, and three-cheese blend, finished with pepperoncinis and a Parmesan herb vinaigrette drizzle.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub:

Food: 4.5 / 5

The plentiful selection of pizzas is sure to keep you occupied with eating through their menu for a while. On top of the wide range of options, the food tastes great as well.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

The feel of the place is slightly different between the indoor and outdoor seating, but not by much. I found the outdoor seating to be pretty refreshing to enjoy the beautiful weather. They also set up live music and events inside the dining area as well.

Service: 4.25 / 5

Even though the initial waitstaff confusion led to us sitting around and waiting to put our drink orders in, after our waitress realized the issue, she made a point to periodically stop by and see how we were doing. The food also cranked out of the kitchen at a rapid pace as well.

Price: 4.25 / 5

The appetizer pricing might have been a little on the steep side, but I think that the pizza pricing wasn’t too bad, considering the larger quantity of ingredients that they were using to assemble their pizzas.

Overall:
17.25 / 20
(86%)

PIZZETTA

ADDRESS: 5408 Koloa Road, Koloa, HI 96756

Pizzetta, Photo 1

I love pizza. Growing up in central New Jersey, there were plenty of local pizza shops serving up the famous New York-style thin crust. Over time, I also developed the habit of folding all my pizza slices; this certainly confused some people when I went to college in Indiana and they watched me eating pizza. “What are you doing?” “That just looks funny.” “So, does that make it a pizza sandwich?” Old habits die hard, I guess.

Of the different types of specialty pizzas that my family ate, the one that we often fell back on was the “supreme” pizza. Pepperoni, sausage, ham, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and olives, all topped with ample amounts of mozzarella cheese. There was just something about the savory flavor combination of those ingredients that I really enjoyed, and the supreme pizza has remained one of my go-to choices when trying out new pizza places.

While browsing through restaurants to add to my family’s Hawaii trip brainstorming list, Pizzetta caught my eye for two reasons: 1) it was a well-rated pizza place close to where we were staying in Kauai, and 2) it was an opportunity to try more pizza on Hawaii. Plus, the restaurant added some diversity in cuisine selection, since the previous restaurants on our list consisted mostly of Hawaiian, Japanese, or American food.

No, this was not a quest to try “Hawaiian” specialty pizza on the islands of Hawaii, so you can set aside the ham and pineapple toppings. I’m curious to see how pizza tastes in different regions, and having the chance to sample some from Hawaii was certainly an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. Luckily, the rest of my family also liked the idea of breaking away from the other cuisines and giving some pizza a shot. It was after spending a good portion of the day out at Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast when we returned back to Koloa in time to make our 6:30 p.m. OpenTable reservation at Pizzetta.

If you’re driving into Old Koloa Town on Koloa Road, it’s tough to miss the sea green building where Pizzetta makes its home. As an “open-air” concept dining room, there are fans mounted from the ceiling to provide circulation while doors and windows are kept open to allow fresh air to flow inside. The reservation turned out not to be needed; the restaurant was only moderately busy when we had arrived.

One of the things that struck me about the dining room was how dim the lighting was. So dim, in fact, that it made it really difficult to read the menu, which had a lot of smaller print on it. I constantly had to face my menu opposite the main doorway, in an attempt to catch any residual daylight to read the words easier. Our waitress came over not too long after we got seated and brought us all waters. When we commented to her about how dim the lighting was, she said it’s not the first time diners had brought it up. The owners had been made aware, but nothing seems to have been done to address it.

We were all pretty hungry after walking around Waimea Canyon, so we decided to start things off with their parmesan crusted baked zucchini appetizer. My brother, my dad, and I decided to split a 16″ Super Combo pizza. My mom, who was avoiding gluten in her diet, was happy to see that they offered a gluten free pizza crust and decided to go with a 10″ BBQ chicken pizza.

Aside from the dim interior lighting, I thought that the décor of the place was pretty nice. Mahogany tables, wooden / tiled floors, and pictures of scenic Italy hanging on the walls provided a casual, but modern dining atmosphere. On the raised portion in the rear dining area, there’s a nice L-shaped bar area to eat at as well. But the lighting was definitely still an issue. Even if there’s ample natural light coming in from the windows during lunch service, the interior lights should be set brighter for dinner service to compensate for reduced lighting while approaching nighttime.

Our zucchini appetizer came out in no time, served with gorgonzola cheese and marinara dipping sauces. The parmesan cheese was lightly coated over the strips of zucchini, just enough to give it that savory flavor on its own. The sauces did complement the zucchini well, adding either savory or tangy elements. The breading on the zucchini was pretty light, so a chunk sometimes fell off as you were dipping it into the sauces.

The pizzas we ordered definitely looked great when they were set down in front of us. My brother, dad, and I were initially concerned if the single large pizza would be enough to feed us all, but it turned out to be just the right amount. Our Super Combo came with pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms (sound familiar?), topped with shredded mozzarella cheese. The toppings look like they were spread out very evenly around the pie; I’ve seen some places really pile it on with the toppings that I can’t tell there’s a pizza under there.

A personal gauge I use on pizzas is to take a slice and hold it straight out to see if the end drops. This one didn’t, which was certainly a good sign in my book. The bottom of the crust was crisp all the way to the center and toppings didn’t slide right off the surface. The crust had a slight garlic aftertaste and was also soft in the middle. All the toppings on the pizza tasted really fresh, and everything combined for some really quality slices. I also enjoyed trying a piece of my mom’s gluten-free BBQ chicken pizza. Cilantro on pizza was a new concept to me, but I think it really worked well on that pizza to contrast with the sharp flavor of the red onion and sweetness of the papaya BBQ sauce.

What started off as an addition to our family trip’s restaurant line-up for some variety ended up being a pleasant surprise for some quality pizza, nestled away in this small Kauai town. The use of fresh ingredients on their pizzas really stands out, and I’d love to try some of the other specialty pizzas on their menu. If you happen to find yourself craving some pizza, don’t hesitate to trek out into Old Koloa Town and hit up Pizzetta. I’m sure your stomach will thank you afterwards.

Let’s now take a look at the Pizzetta Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

Pizzetta, Photo 2Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini
Zucchini strips, baked with a parmesan cheese coating. Served with gorgonzola cheese and marinara dipping sauces.

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Pizzetta, Photo 3** Super Combo Pizza **
Pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms, with shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Pizzetta:

Food: 4.5 / 5

The specialty pizzas are certainly the stars of the show, using fresh ingredients and tasteful flavor combinations. Supporting cast also include pastas, salads, and Italian entrées (such as Chicken Milanese, Chicken Marsala, and gnocchi, to name a few).

Atmosphere: 3.75 / 5

The wooden décor and furniture helped give the restaurant a slightly refined feel, while still keeping it casual. There’s even a small patio at the back of the restaurant that can seat a few pairs of diners. The lack of lighting in the main dining area, however, can’t be overlooked. Not to mention that the owners are aware of the issue and have not addressed it, when diners continue to raise concerns about it.

Service: 4 / 5

Our waitress was welcoming and very open to any questions we had regarding the menu. She returned throughout the meal as well to bring us refills of water. It felt like the food was pretty expeditious out of the kitchen as well, and I don’t think we were kept waiting that long.

Price: 4.25 / 5

Although the pricing was a little bit higher, I think with the locally sourced and fresh ingredients used in the dishes (and the quality you could taste), it’s worth it.

Overall:
16.5 / 20
(83%)

Pizzetta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

KING DOUGH

ADDRESS: 108 W. 6th Street, Bloomington, IN 47404

King Dough, Photo 1

I was in Bloomington, Indiana this past weekend visiting my high school friends Bryan and Katie (which was also an opportune time to escape all the rainy weather that the hurricane was pushing towards the D.C. area). Bryan raved about some of the food trucks in the local area, with one in particular called “King Dough,” specializing in individual wood-fired pizzas. King Dough got so popular as a food truck that the owners decided to set up shop and open a restaurant. Both Bryan and Katie said that King Dough served some of the best pizza in the area, so we all headed over one night to check out the new restaurant.

You could tell that word got around town the restaurant had opened up since the place was absolutely jam packed. We were initially quoted a 30 to 45 minute wait, but some spots opened up at the “pizza bar,” right in front of where they were making all the pizzas. It looked like no one else was going for them, so we asked if we could snag the spots. Thirty seconds later, we were sitting at the bar and looking over the menu.

There are quite a few options to consider for pizzas (11 in total), with some of them containing more artisan ingredients you wouldn’t find at an average pizza shop, such as prosciutto, gorgonzola cheese, and kalamata olives. We were pretty hungry at that point, but I don’t think that each of us could have downed an entire pizza. Each pizza was about 14″ large, so we ended up splitting two of the pizzas between the three of us: the pepperoni and proscuitto arugula.

The wood-fired oven is on full display in the dining area, and I always like that “open-air” design where you can see the kitchen staff making your food. There are a number of circular and rectangular tables spread out in the space, with a bar area all the way in the back for the 21+ crowd. Two TVs are mounted on the wall opposite from the pizza counter, which could make it a great spot for sporting event weekends.

One of the big benefits with a wood-fired oven is that, if I understand correctly, pizzas should cook in a rapid amount of time because the dome-shaped interior allows for the heat from the burning wood to wash over the top of the pizza, cooking it nice and evenly. We could see the staff cranking out pizza after pizza as the orders came in, and they did a great job keeping up with the orders. Our pizzas arrived after fifteen minutes, which was good time considering the volume of orders they probably had that night.

Both pizzas tasted absolutely delicious. There’s always something about the distinct flavor that a wood-fired oven can give a pizza (similar to cooking on a charcoal grill vs. a gas grill). The dough was tossed just thin enough and cooked just the right amount: the crust was crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside. The arugula leaves were the real star of the show for the prosciutto arugula pizza, giving every slice just the right amount of tartness to break through the sweet flavor from the pizza sauce. The prosciutto added a savory flavor to the pizza, while the cooked egg placed right in the middle of the pizza was a surprisingly good addition. The pepperoni pizza had fresh basil leaves as an additional topping to the meat and pizza sauce, which gave that a bit of a different flavor profile as well. Wow, I’m just getting hungry thinking about it again.

One of the things that dampened our visit to the restaurant was the service, or rather, the lack thereof. We were seated for about 10 minutes with no one coming over to take our drink or food orders. I had to ask the hostess for a waitress, and she promptly sent someone over. Our waitress didn’t apologize for the wait, never introduced herself or welcomed us, but rather just awkwardly stood there until she finally asked if we were ready to order. When we asked questions about pizza sizing or the different menu options, she replied with rather curt responses, almost as if she was annoyed by the questions. At the end of the meal, I actually had to walk our receipt over to the waitress after waiting for five minutes since she never returned to collect it after dropping it off. That certainly didn’t leave a great initial impression, especially considering the restaurant has practically just opened.

It’s the second week of the restaurant’s opening, and it’s apparent that they are still going through some growing pains. However, that being said, it certainly shouldn’t brush aside the poor quality of service that we received during our visit. The food is definitely awesome, there’s no question about that. However, the service definitely left much to be desired and detracted from the overall dining experience at the restaurant.

Let’s now take a look at the King Dough Pizza Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

King Dough, Photo 2** Prosciutto Arugula **
Fresh mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese, topped with egg, goat horn peppers, prosciutto, and arugula on a red sauce base.

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King Dough, Photo 3** Pepperoni **
Fresh mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese, topped with pepperonis and fresh basil leaves on a red sauce base.

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And finally, here are my rankings for King Dough:

Food: 5 / 5

By far, some of the best wood-fired pizza I’ve had in a long time. Made with high quality ingredients, the pizzas just tasted fresh and were cooked just right. The flavor combinations of the ingredients layered very well together in the pizzas we tried.

Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5

With the wood-fired oven in the dining area, that let all the smells waft around the room, making everyone who didn’t have any food more hungry, I’m sure. There was also a good amount of lighting set up that generated a good balance in the dining area of not too bright, but not too dark at the same time.

Service: 1.5 / 5

The only saving grace for this segment of the ratings was how quickly our food arrived at the table. If my rating only considered waitstaff service, I would strongly consider a zero, since it practically felt like we had no service at all! Our drinks never got refilled and the waitress was practically nonexistent throughout the entire meal, never stopping by to check how the food was or ask if we needed anything. Probably ranks as the worst service I’ve gotten at a restaurant to date.

Price: 4 / 5

The pizza prices reminded me of a place I know in D.C. that also serves wood-fired pizzas made with high quality ingredients. In the city, I can understand the higher prices. Out here in a college town like Bloomington, I think if the prices would be in a better range if knocked down $1 – $2 or so.

Overall:
15 / 20
(75%)

King Dough Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BOCCE CLUB PIZZA

ADDRESS: 4174 Bailey Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14226

Bocce Club Pizza, Photo 1

I’d like to think that I’ve gained a little bit of a pizza IQ after sampling a variety of pizza styles over the years. New York thin crust, Chicago deep dish, Pizza Hut stuffed crust (yes, Pizza Hut was where I first experienced the magic of stuffed crust), I really do like my pizza.

I was talking to my friend Gary about my roadtrip up to the Buffalo area, and he recommended a pizza place called Bocce Club Pizza that served a style of pizza exclusive to the Buffalo area. This naturally caught my curiosity, so after running it by my friends Bryan and Katie, we added the restaurant to the itinerary while we were in the area.

As we stepped inside the place, we noticed that the only indoor seating available was a bar counter that could sit maybe five or six opposite from the register. For a building that looked rather large on the outside, I was surprised to find that the majority of the seating was the patio area out on the left of the restaurant. Lucky for us, it wasn’t too hot or humid when we decided to stop by, so we ended up sitting outside under the overhang.

From all the pictures that I had seen of their pizza, Bocce Club took the cheese all the way to the edge, leaving no crust behind. Funny enough, I used to do that at the “create-your-own-pizza” station in the college dining halls and it always tasted great. I was glad to see that familiar technique once again. Before I had left from southern Maryland, I asked Gary if there was a specific type of pizza I should order; he recommended to stick with either a classic single-topping of extra cheese or pepperoni. Well, that worked out pretty well since their two slice lunch combo was for a mix of cheese and pepperoni.

The box that I got the pizza in was probably about 12″ x 12″, so when I opened the box and saw the slices could barely fit inside, I knew I was in for a treat. I dug in without hesitation, since we hadn’t eaten breakfast and I was starving at this point. The pizza was way too hot to hold initially such that I had to use a fork and knife (don’t judge, I swear that’s not the norm for me).

A few bites in, I started to gain an understanding of how much the sauce can really have an effect on the overall pizza. Because the pizza was still hot from the oven, as I was eating it, some of the cheese would slide off with my bites, exposing just dough and sauce. Normally, I would have been unhappy to eat just the dough and sauce, but I found eating that was still quite tasty! The sauce was rich and tangy, but still had a slight sweetness to it. The dough was crisp on the bottom of the pizza, but still soft right underneath the sauce layer. The melted mozzarella cheese and small pepperoni slices gave an added savory flavor to tie everything together. But it was the sauce, however, that was the real star of the show.

Overall, the pizza tasted great and I’m really glad that we added it on to the itinerary during the trip up there. I can now see why there was almost a continuous stream of people driving up and carrying out pizzas: the quality of the food had established Bocce Club as a regular Buffalo area spot. I had faith that Gary wouldn’t lead me astray when it came to food; next time I happen to be in the area, I might end up getting two quick slices to go.

Let’s now take a look at the Bocce Club Pizza Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

Bocce Club Pizza, Photo 2** Cheese & Pepperoni Slices **
Part of the two slice combo meal for extra cheese and pepperoni topping slices.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Bocce Club Pizza:

Food: 4.75 / 5

Pizza tasted great and the variety on the menu seemed to cater to a number of different tastes. It still seems like a classic single-topping pie might be the way to go.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

Between the bar counter inside and the wooden picnic tables out on the patio, there were some spots to fit in that quick bite to eat if the weather was cooperative. Maybe that’s why more people decided to do carry-out instead of dine-in?

Service: 4.5 / 5

We had gotten there not long after the restaurant opened, so they needed a little time to get our pizzas made. The guy that helped us behind the counter was nice enough to also bring the pizzas out to us after they were ready.

Price: 4.75 / 5

If I remember correctly, I think my two slice combo with a soda came out to less than $8. What a bargain for that amount of food!

Overall:
18.25 / 20
(91%)

Click to add a blog post for Bocce Club Pizzeria on Zomato

LOST DOG CAFÉ

Address: 2920 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

Lost Dog Café, Photo 1

The Lost Dog Café is a place I stumbled across after doing some browsing over on Urbanspoon for new places to try. I had been interested in finding a good sandwich restaurant in the area, and Lost Dog cropped up as one of the more popular restaurants serving sandwiches. After reading over their menu and getting hungry just reading the different sandwich options, I knew that it was a place I had to try.

Coincidentally, my friend Andrew and I had made plans to see Captain Phillips right across the street at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse yesterday night; it was the perfect setup to step into the Lost Dog Café for a quick bite to eat before the movie. This location that we visited was the second location the owners opened up, with their original restaurant located over on Washington Boulevard in Arlington.

When I first went into the restaurant, it was really cool to see the colorful décor of the restaurant and the painted murals that were up on the walls. In keeping with the namesake of the restaurant, the subjects of the cartoonish murals were dogs doing everyday human things (like walking in the park, going to work, etc.). It all definitely contributed to a brightened dining atmosphere.

With regards to the food and drinks, one word summed it up nicely: variety. There are over 50 different sandwiches and 30 different pizzas to choose from, not to mention an absolute plethora of beers (both on tap and bottled). Both Andrew and I decided to go in for sandwiches and split two to try different ones.

Both the Bow Wow and Cowboy sandwiches we ordered were absolutely spot on. A great thing about the rolls on both subs being toasted is that you get the crunch of the bread on the outside, but the inside is still soft. The Bow Wow definitely packed in the meats with both the bacon and chicken, but also had the melted mozzarella, fontina, and parmesan cheeses to give it the sandwich a creamier texture. On a bite of the Bow Wow where you got all the different components, I think that the ingredients worked well to balance each other out without one overpowering the other. As for the Cowboy, I enjoyed the fact that the vegetables were cooked to the point where they were soft, but still had a slight bit of a crunch to them (particularly the green peppers). I think that the melted brie wrapped all the ingredients together in a cheesy mess (in a good way) and really helped to make the Cowboy another delicious hot sub option.

It was a great first impression coming to the restaurant last night and I certainly can’t wait to return again to try another sub (or perhaps a pizza) on the menu. Everything about the meal worked together to exceed the expectations that I had, and I’m glad to have discovered another restaurant to frequent in the near future.

Let’s now take a look at the Lost Dog Café Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

Lost Dog Café, Photo 2

** The Bow Wow **
Chicken breast, bacon, three types of cheese, and lettuce served on a toasted sub roll.

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Lost Dog Café, Photo 3

** The Cowboy **
Grilled chicken breast with mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and melted brie on a toasted sub roll.

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Lost Dog Café, Photo 4

** The Surf ‘N Turf **
Roast beef, backfin crabmeat, brie, and mayo. One word: awesome.

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Lost Dog Café, Photo 5

The Sammy’s Club
Sliced chicken breast, bacon, avocado, brie, topped with pesto mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes.

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Lost Dog Café, Photo 6

“Dog Collars”
Fried onion rings served with ranch and chipotle mayo.

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And finally, here are my rankings for the Lost Dog Café:

Food: 5 / 5

The subs were absolutely packed with flavor. With so many different options of food to choose from (and all of them sounding delicious), it’s really hard to make up your mind.

Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5

The decorations inside the restaurant, with the color themes, amber lighting, and painted murals, really gives the restaurant its own sense of character.

Service: 5 / 5

Our waitress was very friendly and accommodating to the various questions we asked about both the beers and the food. She came back around afterwards to check on us and make sure we had what we needed. Our sandwiches and waffle fries also came out of the kitchen in record time, no more than five minutes after we ordered.

Price: 4.5 / 5

Almost all of the sandwiches are priced at $8.50 (that’s without a side), and if they are all as tasty as what I had today, I’d definitely pay that again. To add potato chips and a pickle for an extra $1, I think that’s great value for a meal. Can’t comment about the pizza pricing since I haven’t tried those yet.

Overall:
19.25 / 20
(96%)

Lost Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon

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February 9, 2014 Update:

I took another trip back here last night and wanted to add on two additional thoughts to my original post:

  • After having tried both their Italian Fries (waffle fries) and Dog Collars (onion rings), I would probably skip those and stick to the main dishes. Both times they were kind of soggy even though they looked fried, so I’m not sure if they are cooling the fries and onion rings off on paper towels that is making them that way. I personally prefer the fried crunchiness for both of those items.
  • The Old Dominion root beer that they have on tap is fantastic. I’m now finding it hard not to get one every time during future Lost Dog visits. Plus, from my previous experiences, root beer is at its best when it comes from the tap.

HOMEMADE PIZZA

It all really started with me looking at the pizza dough I had bought from Trader Joe’s and wondering, “How could I make this at home?”

It took a little while, but after a bunch of experiments for the better course of a month, I think I’ve finally found an answer.

Homemade Pizza
Makes a 12″ pie

~ 1 package active dry yeast (0.25 oz or 1-1/2 tsp)
~ 3/4 cup warm water
~ 2 cups bread flour
~ 2 tbsp olive oil
~ 1 tsp salt
~ 2 tsp white sugar

~ 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
~ 1/2 to 5/8 cup pizza sauce (might vary depending on size of stretched dough)

Optional:
~ 1/4 tsp garlic powder
~ 1/4 tsp basil

The one main observation that I made in the three tries at doing this was that bread flour worked out much better than all-purpose flour. The all-purpose flour dough didn’t rise as much and the crust turned out really spongy. After switching over to bread flour, I’ve found that the crust is still soft, but has a better structure that is more like pizza you might buy from the store.

Measure out your warm water into a small bowl. I usually go with the water that feels hot to the touch, but isn’t at the point where it steams yet. This will ensure that the yeast can proof properly, where you’ll see the water turns cloudy and bubble a little when the yeast dissolves. Once you add in the yeast, let that sit for about 10 minutes.

While the yeast is proofing, we can go ahead and start to mix together the dry ingredients. Put the bread flour, salt, and white sugar together into a large bowl. The optional ingredients that I listed are ones that I use to add a bit more flavor to the dough, but definitely experiment around with other spices that you can add into the dough to give it more flavor.

After the 10 minutes is up, add in the dissolved yeast into the dry ingredients as well as the olive oil. Mix everything together and begin to knead the dough with your hands. There will likely be some stray pieces of dough sitting on the outer area of the bowl, so knead those back into the main piece and form it into a ball shape. Once you’re finished, cover up the bowl with either a lid or some Saran wrap and it’s time to let the dough rise. I’ve used two different methods to let the dough rise, so I’ll outline both of them below.

The Countertop Method
With this method, the dough will be ready in roughly an hour. The indication that the dough is ready is that it will have doubled in size, so check back on it around the 45 minute mark and see where it’s at. This was the method that I used for the bacon and green pepper pizza and I think that it turned out pretty well. The dough had the softness that I was looking for, but the crust didn’t puff up as much as I had wanted it to. I went online to read about different ways to let pizza dough rise, which brings me to the next method….

The Refrigerator Method
A really great read about the benefits of using the refrigerator method can be found at this SeriousEats post. It’s packed with a lot of detail and outlines a lot of the technical reasons about why using the refrigerator is a great place to have your dough rise. The basics of the process involve making the dough and then letting it sit in the refrigerator to rise, since the yeast will react differently when exposed to the colder temperatures. It gives the dough a little bit of a different structure, and the post outlines that the optimal timeframe to let it sit in the fridge is about 3 – 5 days.

That was my original plan when I made the dough and put it in the fridge last night, but when I saw this morning that it had already easily doubled in size, I had to adjust my plans a little bit. In total, I had let the dough rise in the fridge for about 16 hours before taking it out and leaving it on the counter for an hour to finish the proofing process before working with it. Looking back, I think that my amount of yeast will need to be scaled back if I want to leave it in the fridge for longer. With the full packet of yeast, it rose a lot quicker than I had anticipated.

Once your dough is ready to be rolled out, go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough into your desired size (I’ve found that having a rolling pin really helps out with the process) before transferring it over to your oven pan / pizza pan. Throw on the pizza sauce, followed up with the shredded cheese and other toppings. The cheese / sauce amounts that I listed above I’ve found to work out well for a pizza of this size. If your pizza is going to be on the smaller end, I would maybe hold back just a bit on both of them.

Place your pizza into the middle rack of the oven, but also put an empty cookie sheet on the rack right above. This will prevent the toppings from burning before the pizza is finished cooking. Leave it in there for about 18 – 20 minutes before taking it out and letting it cool for 2 minutes.

I love that pizza is such a versatile food item where you can experiment with different toppings to suit your own tastes. It gives you the chance to flex your own creativity and make topping combinations that they might not serve at pizza places. This recipe is certainly just a starting point, but also one where I’ll continue to tweak around as I learn from future pizza making experiences!

Potential Adjustments:

  • To achieve a crispier outer crust, I might try to brush the outside with olive oil before putting it into the oven. For some added flavor, I might also sprinkle some garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, and basil on there too.
  • Another method to get the crispy crust might be to remove the cookie sheet and broil the pizza for 2 – 3 minutes after cooking for 16 – 18 minutes.

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February 12, 2014 Update:

This past week, after mulling it over and doing a bunch of research, I decided that it was finally time to jump in and join the pizza stone club. I got this Old Stone Oven 14″ x 16″ pizza stone and this Ironwood Gourmet acacia wood pizza peel and got the chance to test it out for the first time yesterday evening. I was very impressed with just how much of a difference the pizza stone made.

I was able to achieve the crispy bottom of the pizza that I wanted while still retaining the softness of the actual crust itself. A previous problem that I had was when I folded my pizza slice, it would crack all the way down half the slice. With the pizza from yesterday, I was able to fold it with almost no cracking. With further experimentation and more experience, I will eventually re-write this post to include both the oven method and pizza stone methods I’ve used to cook my pizzas.