A Lovely Meal

Wifey and I decided we needed a mid-week date night a couple weeks back and decided to check out a pizza place we hadn't been before. We narrowed it down to Dove Vivi and Lovely's Fifty-Fifty. Dove Vivi is off Glisan and Lovely's is on Mississippi Avenue, and since we could pair that with a visit to The Sugar Cube for a cupcake dessert we opted for the latter. Maybe next time Vivi.

Lovely's Fifty-Fifty is the new place opened next door to what was Lovely Hula Hands, a place we wanted to go to but never did before it closed. It's run by the same people, but the focus has shifted to high quality pizza and homemade ice cream from the meals done in the old space. This space is new, long and narrow, with plenty of seating. We were there a little early - 5:30 or so - on a Wednesday and there were plenty of tables. In fact, there were still plenty of tables when we left an hour later. Admittedly that's not exactly a high traffic night, or time, for a restaurant, but it's good to know you can get a table when you want one if you play your cards right.

Fifty-Fifty has their own unique take on pizza. I've seen it described as traditional, meaning like the ones made in Napoli, but I think I must disagree. It's closer to that style than any American style, but I personally think Nostrana and Ken's Artisan Pizza are closer to what is typically Napolitano - that could just be me. That's not to say it's not good - it most assuredly is.

We decided to get two. For us this is practically a must because the first one we will always get is the classic margherita. So what next? You can see the menu at the link above - they all looked good. What we decided on isn't on the menu at the moment; it had fennel sausage, kale, and mozzarella. I wasn't sold it would be a good combination, but fennel sausage intrigued me.

Lovely's crust is very good. It's not as chewy as some, not as thick as others, but it has very good flavor and a crunch to the edges that isn't too much, meaning it's not dry and overdone. The sauce is absolutely excellent - you can taste the freshness of the tomatoes. There is also plenty of it, which we both love (and yes, I realize this is decidedly un-Italian - don't care). The mozzarella on both pizzas was very good, very fresh, and there was a nice drizzle of olive oil at some point in the layering that added another element of flavor.

The margherita was fantastic. The freshness of all the ingredients and the boldness of the flavors working in harmony really stood out. I'd eat this every day if I could. The kale and sausage was also very good. I wasn't sure about the kale, but the nuttiness from the leaves when roasted really made a nice impact on the overall flavor and the fennel sausage added a touch of savory and salty that was very pleasing. I didn't think I would like this nearly as much as the margherita, but it was fantastic. Absolutely would get again...but then again, there are others to try!

We made a point of saving room for dessert because we had heard good things about their ice cream. (Just ignore the fact we had Sugar Cube cupcakes already in the car...) Unfortunately the chocolate chip cookie dough was sold out (sad!), so we got a scoop each of the malted milk ball and the salted caramel. And wow...just wow. This might be some of the best ice cream I've had, and I like myself some ice cream.

The malted milk ball ice cream tasted, literally, like a melted Whopper. I loved these things as a kid - not so much Whoppers specifically anymore, but I like the flavor combination - and this was a flashback to then. On top of the excellent flavor profile the vanilla ice cream itself was very smooth and creamy, almost luxurious. The salted caramel was heavenly... We both agreed we'd go back just for ice cream, even if the pizza was bad - which it wasn't at all. In fact while we were there at least one couple came in just for a cone to go. Right now they are open just for dinner, but I believe they will be open on weekend afternoons in the summer for ice cream at least, if not for meals. And it's completely worth it.

My only complaint about the whole dinner is the booths are wooden benches and they are quite hard. If that's the only issue, you know there is no reason to not give it a visit. Good pizza, nice atmosphere, and fantastic ice cream - lovely indeed.

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