Nothing ever changes at the P.I. And that's the way we like it. It's old skool pub grub all the way in a super-casual atmosphere: burgers, deli sandwiches, pizza, soups, salads, some dinner entrees and "others," such as the delectably dangerous-sounding chili dog ($5.75). For pizza, try the 12-inch ML Special ($13.75), with sausage, beef, mushroom, olive, onion and fresh tomato. It's generous with a thin crust, a hint of sauce and a mountain of toppings. The grilled cheese sandwich ($4.75) was delicious and gooey with cheddar and provolone melted between two buttery, toasted slices of rye bread. The side of homemade chili (ordinary but perfectly mouth-watering, with a mound of cheese and onions on top) was a little bowl of satisfaction. The service was friendly, efficient and frequently hilarious. Smoking at the P.I. is most definitely allowed. 107 W. 9th Ave. Call: 624-8111. (MC)
After many successful years at the Flour Mill, Riverview Thai has moved up the river to Riverwalk, the site of the now-defunct Bayou Brewery. The Khao Tom ($9.45) was a lovely Thai version of chicken and rice soup, with fragrant jasmine rice and ground chicken in a rich chicken broth, flavored with green onion, celery, garlic and cilantro. The Gaeng keow wahn ($11) with chicken combines green curry sauce with green peas, bamboo shoots, bell pepper and fresh basil -- a successful dish with the fragrant taste of the Thai basil dominating. The pahd si-ew ($10.45) consists of fried rice noodles, chicken, broccoli and eggs. The sauce for this dish was sweet and lacked any hint of heat. Dinner on the lawn near the river was lovely, but an awkward arrangement for the wait staff. Nevertheless, service was friendly. 1003 E. Trent. Call: 922-4935. (LM)
The Cosmopolitan Caf & eacute;
The Cosmopolitan is a friendly, casual and contemporary oasis with healthy, inventive salads and a great selection of sandwiches. The salad bar ($6.50) features roughly a dozen different freshly made creations (leafy green, corn and black bean, fruit, beet and walnut, penne with pesto and pine nuts, asparagus, etc.) The salads were uniformly interesting and delicious. The Chicago's Revenge (all sandwiches are $6.50), a meatball sandwich, was a combination of tender meatballs, thick, tangy red sauce, chopped onions, peppers and shredded mozzarella on a sturdy six-inch sandwich roll. Terrific (and fast) service seems to be the norm. 321 S. Dishman-Mica Road. Call: 922-4935. (MC)
Hill's Someplace Else
Hill's leads a double life as a pub and has the feel of a place with lots of longtime regulars. The menu includes pub favorites but ventures into more upscale, cosmopolitan fare as well. The New York Steak and Blue ($15), a tender cut grilled and topped with a gorgonzola demi-glace and blue cheese chunks, had a very nice flavor. The mashed spuds alongside were extra-good. The Malaysian chicken satay ($13.50) was five skewers of chicken in a big puddle of rich peanut sauce, served with a scoop of white rice and a vegetable medley. The peanut sauce was flavorful and interesting for containing lots of chopped peanuts. Less interesting was the bizarre, stringy, rubbery texture of the chicken. Expect good, cheerful service. 518 W. Sprague. Call: 747-3946. (LM)
Dalcado's specializes in burritos, tacos, quesadillas and salads, all made fresh to order with high-quality ingredients, featuring lean meats and a variety of salsas made daily -- all for a price that rivals fast food fare. The d & eacute;cor is cheery, and there's a great salsa bar, too. The Dalcado Burrito ($5.49) is a very substantial and well-balanced flour tortilla bundle containing either grilled steak or grilled chicken, two kinds of cheese, guacamole, Mexican rice, pinto beans, salsa fresca and sour cream. The steak was very tender and had a nice grilled flavor. The Fish Burrito ($5.39) with beer-battered white fish was wrapped up with shredded cabbage, salsa, cheese and white sauce that infused the mixture with a nice zip. 9327 N. Newport Highway. Call: 466-3346. (MC)
Sam's on Regal
Sam's on Regal is comfortable and unpretentious. Though the head chef is trained in classical French cuisine, the emphasis here is on good, recognizable food with flair. The lemon pepper pasta ($9.75), a house specialty, consisted of fresh lemon pepper linguine tossed in brown butter with myzithra cheese. The simple pasta dish stood up, bite after lemony bite, with the mild, almost smoky myzithra, a well-chosen companion to the zing of the lemon pepper pasta. Other interesting menu options included a chicken breast stuffed with basil and goat cheese ($15) and the smoked salmon penne with porcini mushrooms and penne in a gorgonzola cream ($14). For dessert, the creme brulee ($4.95) was infused with lots of vanilla flavor and had a nice crunchy sugar layer on top. 2901 E. 57th. Call: 443-1881. (LM)
Little Italy features pastas, calzones, sandwiches, salads and soups, a nice selection of appetizers and terrific gourmet pizza (25 varieties). Prices are reasonable for pies of this stature and range from $14-$16 for a medium and from $17-$19 for a large. The Pizza Mediterraneo ($16), with olive oil, pesto sauce, mozzarella, green olives, artichoke hearts and feta cheese, looked great when it arrived and tasted even better. The savory pesto was a subtle presence underneath the blanket of mozzarella and crumbled feta. The green olives and artichoke hearts contributed a salty, tangy zing. The penne pasta with Bolognese sauce ($8) was cooked al dente. The sauce was authentic, rich and well seasoned. 7458 N. Division. Call: 487-7777. (MC)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.
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