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The Inlander Staff & r & & r & OLIVE OILZ & r & & r & The d & eacute;cor at Olive Oilz doesn't scream Italian -- it's more Americana -- but the menu is all Mediterranean, from Spanish paella ($25) to several pasta dishes and a dozen enticing antipasti (appetizers). The soups are outstanding -- the creamy tomato vegetable soup with Gorgonzola and the rich creamy curried lentil alone are worth a visit. Among entr & eacute;es, the New York strip steak with wild-mushroom Gorgonzola sauce ($22) arrived in bite-size pieces, and it was almost melt-in-your-mouth tender. The pasta with large prawns ($18) -- angel hair pasta in a tomato-saffron sauce with Italian sausage and prawns -- was amazing and popular. Two breads, baked in-house, accompanied the meal. We finished with a hopped-up, piece-of-pie-shaped brownie ($6.50), moist, with a crumbly top layer, drizzled chocolate frosting and chocolate shavings. From bread to dessert, Olive Oilz is friendly, cozy and comfortable. 2812 E. 30th Ave., 535-3104 (DN)





MAGGIE'S SOUTH HILL GRILL


The interior at Maggie's is bright and sunny, especially in the morning, with rough-hewn sunflower-yellow walls and stained-glass upper windows. Brunch is a weekend treat: The crab benedict ($11) is a highlight -- two poached eggs perched on top of crab cakes, with the requisite English muffin underneath and a light topping of hollandaise. Each crab cake is generous and distinctly crabby, with a light crunchy crust yet moist and savory inside with colorful flecks of minced celery, peppers and onions. The pumpkin pancakes ($5.75), a stack of four fluffy cakes at least six inches across, entice with the aroma of pumpkin pie; they were thick but light, with subtle flavors of pumpkin and spice. Maggie's is the kind of place where you don't have to dress up to go out and get a weekend breakfast that's comfortable and familiar, but it's just different enough to be special. 2808 E. 29th Ave., 536-4745 (AC)





VILLAGGIO


The ambience at Villaggio (Italian for village) is upscale: a dozen dark wood tables, folded white cloth napkins, little red table candles, new age/fusion jazz background music. Pizzas from the brick wood-fired oven are the tasty highlight, like the Vegetariano ($15) -- a 12-inch, irregularly shaped platform for a thin layer of tomato sauce and a gardeners' feast of caramelized onions, mushrooms, roasted eggplant, peppers, artichoke, and millimeter-thin slices of zucchini. The caramelized onions add a layer of texture and flavor to the Insalata Villaggio ($10), with arugula, pear slivers, walnuts, Gorgonzola and fig balsamic vinaigrette. The wonderfully rich tiramisu ($7), with layers of creamy filling, coffee-saturated cake and melted chocolate, was a lovely ending to a very nice meal. A fully stocked bar serves wine, martinis and other mixed drinks. 2013 E. 29th Ave., 532-0327 (DN)





THE BEACON


Peering through the Beacon's floor-to-ceiling windows onto Sherman Ave. is a bit like watching television with the sound turned down. We contemplated healthy choices, like the Sunshine Salad -- shredded romaine, cotija cheese, fried plantains (OK, mostly healthy), spiced almonds, avocado and mango vinaigrette ($5) -- but opted for the lightly crispy jalape & ntilde;o-cream cheese wontons with just the right amount of pepper heat ($7.50). The moist and flaky beer-battered fish and chips is easily the most affordable in North Idaho -- $8 for three and a half large chunks of fish -- and the tartar was sweet and bold with a hint of capers. Eight draft beers, from Guinness to Bud Light to local Laughing Dog, and 22 bottled choices gave a casual beer consumer like me plenty of options. Service was excellent, and the ambience was equally pleasant, making the Beacon a hip locale for tasty pub grub that's reasonably priced. 325 Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 665-7407 (CS)

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