Pizzalchik 

On one plate...

I entered Pizzalchik's small space around 11 a.m. and an eager, smiling man behind the counter asked if he could give me "the tour," so to speak. He proceeded to tell me about a multitude of fresh ingredients, including homemade salad dressings and vegetables and meats roasted/smoked/pickled in-house. From the focaccia bread to the "afterthought du jour" (dessert), almost everything on the menu is as fresh and original as it comes, and there's a syllable for every taste.

I decided on a 10-inch hand-tossed pizza with elk sausage, rainbow peppers and an assortment of wild mushrooms cooked in wine reduction and cream. My helpful tour guide, who I assumed was the owner, arranged my toppings with an expert's eye as he gave the "tour" to another customer. As I waited, the aroma of bubbling mozzarella and provolone got me salivating, and when my pizza popped out of the giant oven, it looked like a piece of art. Thin ovals of sausage spiked with fennel seeds mingled with juicy peppers and the grays, browns and duns of wild mushrooms (including a few morels thrown on for good measure). It smelled heavenly. I ordered a side of rosemary roasters (wedges of Yukon Gold potatoes roasted with rosemary) and laughed as the owner related the story of a now-regular customer who once assumed that Pizzalchik was Vietnamese.

In the comfort of my living room, I dipped a roaster in an unnamed orange sauce. The potato was tender and meaty with pleasingly crisp edges and a wonderful bouquet of herbs with just a hint of olive oil. The sauce was the best goddamn fry sauce I've ever tasted. I don't know exactly how he makes it, but that Pizzalchik can dress my potatoes any time. The pizza had a lovely golden crust, not too thin, not too thick, and the toppings were more than generous. The morels in particular were like juicy little treasures, every porous inch popping with flavor, but I found the rest of the mushrooms bland in comparison. The cheese was heady and mixed well with the sweetness of the peppers and the bite of the sausage. The overall effect left me quite satisfied.

What did I learn? Names can be deceiving and there are still restaurateurs out there willing to give you the spiel and a handful of free mushrooms, even when you're not a food critic.

-Erin Ryan thought Pizzalchik was a Russian satellite.

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