Getting Sauced 

What works: The large, fun patio is perfect for summer dining.

What needs work: There are still a few kinks to work out in its service.

The tip: It’s time to give this spot another try.

just get the obvious out of the way: The old Sauced was inconsistent at
best, with the quality of service and food depending on the cycles of
the moon or maybe how well the chef’s hacky sack game went that day.

It was sad, really, because I live just a few blocks from the restaurant, and it always has had an amazing patio.

new owners (the same that own Paseo Grill across the street) stepped in
a little more than six months ago. And while you’re not going to hear a
disparaging word from them about the old Sauced, the difference between
old and new is there and easy to spot.

changed the inside a little bit … and we changed the menu; we tried
keeping the same feel for the restaurant, but we put our own little
twist on it,” said John Patterson, manager. “We were just wanting to
come in and put our own style on things.”

not like the new management has turned the pizza place into Muffy
VonTwinsets’ Country Club Tea Room — there’s still a healthy hippie/
hipster vibe to the place, which is great — now Sauced simply has its
free-range ducks in a row. That means when I ordered my pizza at the new
Sauced, it not only came to the table fully cooked (glory be!), but
pretty damned delicious.

visited the first time in the evening to just chill on the large patio
over appetizers, the strings of lights overhead and cold beer making us
want to linger. Also making us linger? Three great appetizers to plow
through: the bruschetta ($4.50), hummus ($3) and Italian nachos ($6.50).

the three, the Italian nachos were the table favorite, a massive plate
of pasta chips piled with spicy Italian sausage, chicken, tomatoes,
black olives, jalapeños and cheese. Plus an Alfredo sauce. These were
Italian nachos, after all.

We visited again for dinner just recently, although the dreary day meant we had to forgo the patio for indoor dining.

that’s one of the little changes you’ll notice at Sauced. The
tall-ceilinged annex room has been painted in colorful, bright murals,
and there are even two pieces of pre-dinner entertainment in one corner
of the room: old-school arcade games Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. My husband
immediately begged some quarters and was off.

was content to just hang out and listen to a guy sitting under the
covered walkway just outside, playing a guitar and alternating between
Sublime and The Doors. I’m not even sure if he was supposed to be there,
but I didn’t mind. Like I said, Sauced has grown up, but not completely.

Live music is still a big part of the restaurant, according to Patterson.

trying to do as much live music as we can, while at the same time
keeping the neighbors happy, because we are in a neighborhood,” he said.

Besides music, Sauced also hosts open mic nights every Tuesday and poetry nights every Wednesday.

I soon forgot the guy on the guitar, however, because my caprese salad
($6) showed up, a lineup of thick-cut mozzarella and firm tomatoes
doused with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with
sliced red onion, shredded greens and cracked pepper. It was delicious
and tasted very fresh and light — perfect for summer.

But what about the pizza?

is first and foremost a pizza joint, after all. My husband and I were
impressed with everything we tried, from my make-your-own slice ($3.50,
plus .25 for toppings) to his enough-for-three-lunches meatball pie
($13.99 for a 16-inch).

I also tried the Spartacus
($10.99 for a 12-inch, $20.99 for a 16-inch, $23.99 for an 18-inch
hand-tossed thin), a vegetarian’s dream — and a top seller — layered
with feta cheese, tomatoes, pepperoncinis, artichokes, kalamata olives
and green bell peppers. Heavenly.

If you like things a
little more meaty (make that a lot more meaty), try The Full Monty
($10.99 for a 12-inch, $17.99 for a 16-inch, $20.99 for an 18-inch
handtossed thin), topped with cheese and pepperoni, Italian sausage,
capocollo and bacon. Whoa.

And you can get all that meaty goodness for lunch! Sauced is now open starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

All in all, Sauced has kept the same vibe that originally made it so popular, but it’s grown up where it needs to.

Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

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