Schmizza exudes relaxed, neighborly vibe

There’s room for improvement with some food offerings

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Dining Out review: Schmizza Pub & Grub

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Happy hour is 2 to 5 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 2 to 5 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Telephone: 360-571-4064.

Where: 910 N.E. Tenney Road, Vancouver.

Health score: Schmizza Pub & Grub received a score of 30 on Jan. 27. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.    

Why: Originally Pizza Schmizza, Schmizza Pub & Grub reinvented itself to reflect a broader range of menu items and a pub atmosphere, with happy hour and trivia nights. Located in Salmon Creek, the restaurant offers a place to enjoy a cold brew and eats with family and friends.

What I tried: My dining companion and I tried the steak and potato pizza, the spaghetti and meatballs and the chicken Thai salad.

The salad is made with a bed of fresh, dark greens topped with sliced, red bell peppers and grilled chicken. A spicy Thai peanut sauce is generously drizzled on top, and extra is served alongside. The only detractor from the quality of the salad was the chicken, which was not freshly grilled. I would have preferred warm, from-the-grill chicken instead of the cold, somewhat bland chicken that was used.

The spaghetti and meatballs consisted of a generous amount of pasta and meatballs tossed in a tomatoey sauce sprinkled with rich Parmesan cheese. A pair of pizza-crust-style bread sticks came with the dish along with a tub of sauce for dipping. The only detractor to this dish was the quality of the meatballs. They were very processed instead of homestyle, although they were very flavorful.

The pizza’s base was a red sauce topped with a copious amount of mozzarella cheese. The steak was cut into strips, and the baby red potatoes were sliced thin. Sour cream was served alongside. The steak and potato elements of the pizza were overwhelmed with the cheese and sauce. The steak was lean, though somewhat bland, and the potatoes were crunchy. In my opinion, this pizza has a lot of potential. Instead of a red sauce base, something more complementary to the steak could be used, maybe a sauce that combines steak sauce in it. Also, instead of sliced potatoes, I would use diced, roasted potatoes for more flavor and better texture.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Wings are available in both regular and boneless versions. Tater tots come plain, Cajun or pizza style. A Greek salad and Cobb salad are among the salad options. Pastas include a Frikin’ Chicken entree made with grilled chicken and roasted broccoli with penne pasta in a basil pesto cream sauce, and a “Cajunator” dish made with alligator sausage, grilled chicken breast (or spicy Italian sausage) tossed in spicy Cajun chipotle cream sauce with penne pasta. Also on the menu are exclusive sandwiches, such as the buffalo bacon chicken, made with buffalo chicken breast, bacon and provolone and blue cheese, and the Frikin’ Chicken breast, made with grilled or crispy chicken, Roma tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, pickles, Parmesan cheese and basil pesto mayonnaise. The garden noodle pasta made with spinach, black olives, mushrooms, red onions, zucchini and Roma tomatoes sounded good. Pizza is sold by the slice (limited to pizzas of the day) or you may have any of the original, specialty, veggie and meat pizzas made to order. The veggie baby pizza made with spinach, red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and feta cheese atop a creamy Alfredo base sound delicious, as did the yucateco garlic noodle pizza, which combines Mexican-roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese on a bed of garlic noodles. Thirty beers are available on tap in addition to bottled. Cider and wine and fountain drinks are also served.

Atmosphere: The strip mall location occupies a corner unit which affords an ample amount of outdoor seating — perfect if you want to bring your canine family member. Within, the walls are painted a colorful palette of muted green, orange and blue. High and low tables and booths provide seating, and large-screen TVs are tuned to various programs offering entertainment. Orders are placed at the counter and delivered to tables and fountain drinks are help-yourself style.

Other observations: The waitstaff was friendly and attentive. The vibe was relaxed and neighborly. The food was a mixed experience with some room for improvement. Trivia night is 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays.

Cost: Appetizers cost $4 to $13. Salads come in half and whole portions and cost $4 to $10. Sandwiches are $8 and pasta dishes are $9. Pizzas are available in 12-inch, 14-inch, 16-inch and 18-inch sizes and range from $17 to $31. Pizza by the slice costs $3.50 to $4.25. Beer on tap comes in 10-ounce and 16-ounce sizes. A 10-ounce tap beer is $3.25 and the 16-ounce is $5.25 unless it is happy hour, then it costs $4.25. Premium pints are $6.25 regularly and $5.25 during happy hour. Bottled beer ranges from $3.25 to $10.75. Wine by the glass is $5.