Food & Dining
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Why: Uncle D's Wood Fired Pizza recently opened in Battle Ground Village. It is a family-friendly, casual dining restaurant that serves wood-fired pizza in a rustic setting that has the fluidity of modern efficiency.
I had my reservations; the space had already seen two failed restaurant attempts, and when I discovered pizza was on the menu, I quickly recalled several "here today, gone tomorrow" pizza startups in various locations around town.
I think diners fall into one of two categories when they hear of yet another pizza place: Can't wait to try it, or oh, joy (infuse sarcasm) more pizza. I'm not allowed either thought. I just schedule a visit and check it out.
Atmosphere: The space has been designed with two roll-up doors that blur the line between outside and inside on pleasant days when they can be opened to create a picnic sort of dining experience.
Tables and chairs accommodate two to four but are close enough for larger groups not to feel separated.
Beverages are help-yourself style and pizzas are delivered to the table.
It is obvious that great care was put in thinking through and executing how to best prepare items and serve diners. Uncle D's was about two-thirds full on the evening of my visit and I didn't observe any hiccups in the process.
What I tried: My dining companions and I settled on the three Uncle D's Favorites — The Wyoming, The California, and The Montana. We also sampled the Cold & Crunchy Romaine Salad and for dessert we had the Blue Berry Delight pizza, which is topped with butter, cinnamon, sugar, and blueberries. After it comes out of the oven it is then topped with a drizzle of frosting.
The salad arrived first and was true to its name — cold and crunchy. Topped with fresh apples, candied pecans, Craisins, and feta, it reminded me of a salad I make at home. It came with a very tangy balsamic vinaigrette, which I recommend adding sparingly.
All three of Uncle D's Favorites that we ordered were absolutely delicious. The dough used for the crust is supplied by Sunrise Bagels. In the hands of Uncle D's, it becomes a cracker-thin base that retains just enough doughlike quality when baked to keep it from crumbling apart — perfection in my opinion and far superior to some of those other thin-crust pizzas that have a pan-poured character.
The Wyoming is a sweet chili pepper pizza topped with olive oil, sweet chili pepper sauce, sausage, pepperoni, pineapple, peperoncinis, a pepper mix and feta cheese. Though it sounds like a lot of toppings, they are evenly dispersed in quantities that are in balance with the crust. This was true of our other selections as well. The flavor was spicy-sweet and the favorite of my dining companion, who has the highest tolerance for spicy hot foods, though we all found it tasty and not too spicy.
The California was the big hit with the rest of us. It is a pear and gorgonzola cheese pizza that we found so interesting it has no contemporary comparison. The cheese didn't overwhelm the other ingredients and the pear presented a sweet surprise to each magical slice.
The Montana is a good choice for those who enjoy caramelized onions. Although it has chevre and Parmigiano-Reggiano on it, the cheeses serve to enhance the caramelized quality of the onions and impart a rich goodness to the pizza's profile.
All three of Uncle D's Favorite pizzas are their own creations. Each is a treat well worth trying.
The dessert pizza was equally impressive. The fresh blueberries had just begun to melt into the pie and mingle with the buttery mix of cinnamon and sugar when it exited the oven. It was extraordinarily scrumptious.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The Reuben, made with olive oil, thousand island, pastrami, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut, sounded like an adventurous option. The Vegetariana, with olive oil, tomato sauce, mozzarella, spinach, a peperoncini pepper mix, onions, green olives, artichoke, and fresh basil, is a no-meat variety among the specialty pizzas.
Uncle D's also serves up classic pizzas such as a cheese, pepperoni, Hawaiian, and Italian.
Salads include a fresh spinach, creamy Caesar, and a garden salad, in addition to the Cold & Crunchy Romaine that I tried.
Other observations: Pizzas are baked in the wood-fired oven, which quickly renders orders that are delivered to tables by one of the friendly wait staff members.
The persuasive power of a delicious pizza, combined with excellent service and a comfortable atmosphere is enough to turn my affections toward a new favorite. I am looking forward to my next visit. Uncle D's will serve your pizza cravings.
Cost: Pizzas come in two sizes and cost $10 for a personal size, and either $12 or $14 (depending on the type) for the larger size. Dessert pizzas are $8. Salads cost $6 and $8. Drinks are a buck.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 1417 S.E. Rasmussen Blvd., Suite 130, Battle Ground Village. www.uncledspizza.com
Health score: Uncle D's has received a pre-opening inspection and is scheduled for a routine inspection sometime in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.