by Susan Hamilton

It's not just another pizza joint. Pedro's Pizza, a newly opened pizzeria on the South Hill, doesn't offer run-of-the-mill pizza.

"We have gourmet pizza at its best," proclaims owner Dave Michaelsen. "It's the best product we could put out there. Our pizzas have an addictive quality."

So what makes Pedro's so special?

"We make our own dough and use olive oil, not vegetable oil," Michaelsen explains. "We worked on our wheat crust recipe until it was just right. We even have kids requesting our wheat crust, although we also serve regular white crust pizzas."

And what about the sauces and toppings? Pedro's sauces include tomato-and-marinara, creamy garlic or olive oil-and-basil. Michaelsen says all his sauces are blended and made in-house. Toppings are prepared from handpicked produce and products, including whole-milk mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, hand-sliced Canadian bacon and artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil.

Pedro's specializes in gourmet pizza pies. The Manito Place pizza is topped with spinach, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, chicken and ricotta cheese. The Greek Special sports olive oil and basil sauce, crushed garlic, salami, fresh mushrooms, green olives, red peppers, feta cheese and onions. The Big Italian is loaded with salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, onions, black olives, green peppers, tomatoes and feta cheese. And if those selections don't tickle your tastebuds, there are four more gourmet pizzas to choose from.

Regular pizzas run the gamut from cheese, pepperoni and Hawaiian to all-meat, vegetarian and Pedro's special (with Italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, black olives and onions). Or build your own pizza creation from Pedro's numerous sauces and toppings. Mixed green or spinach salads are also offered, as well as bread or cheese sticks. And if you have room for dessert, there are cinnamon and sugar or apples and cinnamon pizzas.

Though there is an eating counter at Pedro's, most of its business is take-out and delivery in the South Hill area.

If you're wondering about the name, yes, it refers to that Pedro. As in Napoleon Dynamite's "Vote for Pedro!"

"We were kicking around names and Pedro's kept coming up," Michaelsen says. "Yeah, we were influenced by the movie."

Just like the black and white family photos that decorate the walls of Pedro's, the employees all come from Michaelsen's family. That's why it's only open for the dinner crowd. Michaelsen, a forensic toxicologist, and his family have kept their day jobs.

But why did a forensic toxicologist decide to open a pizza place?

"It's all about chemistry," Michaelsen reveals. "Besides, we had to find a way to put our kids through college."

Pedro's Pizza, 501-1/2 E. 30th Ave. (next to Gordy's), is open Mon-Thurs, 4-8 pm; Fri-Sat, 4-9 pm. Call 456-4900.

Tasty Vittles

You may have seen the winking rogue with his top hat and curling mustache adorning the sign above a new North Side eatery. He's the symbol for Scalawag's restaurant, owned by two sisters and managed by one of the sister's husband. But what's with the name?

"We think of each other as scalawags," explains manager Jim Parker, as "Down by the Riverside" plays on the restaurant's speaker system. "Actually, my wife's sister Peggy came up with the name. It just seemed to fit."

And it's fitting that "scalawag" is a Southern term for a scoundrel or rascal.

"When my wife and I went to New Orleans last year, we found a wonderful place where we watched our meal being prepared with a lot of repartee from the chef, ate the delicious food and then took the recipes home with us," Parker continues. "We thought it was a great idea. Plus it's always been a dream of my wife and her sister to open their own restaurant."

Lesley Parker and her sister Peggy Cotur have always cooked, they say. "A lot of our recipes come from our family as well as what our customers bring in, like the Santa Fe corn chowder," explains Lesley.

Lest you think these gals are novices trying to crack into the restaurant business, think again. They've both won awards for their creations at various cooking competitions. Parker has taught family consumer science (aka home economics) for 16 years and Cotur has cooked for a variety of organizations.

But on to the food: Scalawag's classic breakfast includes hot cakes, French toast, Belgian waffles, quiche and omelets, with plenty of sides -- from ham to home-fried spuds. Biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak and breakfast burritos offer a down-home start to your morning.

The lunch menu is slightly tongue-in-cheek. Sandwiches sport names like Tom Foolery (turkey, stuffing, cranberries and cream cheese on a flaky croissant) and Shyster (grilled chicken breast, bacon, avocado and cheese topped with a special barbecue sauce). The Scoundrel is Scalawag's newest creation -- a hot roast beef sandwich with grilled onions and mozzarella. The signature dish is Muffaleta Scalawag, the sisters' version of a New Orleans classic. Genoa salami, mortadella, ham, provolone and mozzarella are piled on focaccia bread with olive spread. Salads (from chef to Caesar and spinach to chicken) and homemade soups (like smoky cheddar or broccoli cheese) round out the menu.

Scalawag's is not a place to skip dessert. "The Blob is to die for," Parker says. The butterscotch/peanut butter/chocolate concoction's creamy richness will have you coming back for more. And the Jack Daniels cheesecake is hard to resist. And if you take advantage of Scalawag's downtown lunch delivery, you may see Jim sporting his top hat when he brings your order.

Next month, Scalawag's will offer cooking classes ($25 per person, $45 a couple) where you can learn about meal preparation, savor culinary creations and take home recipes. Each month, Scalawag's offers a reservation-only, multi-course dinner, like the July 30 dinner of stuffed salmon with huckleberry salsa and dessert of White Russian cheesecake.

Scalawag's, 113 W. Indiana Ave., is open daily 7 am-3 pm. Call 327-1804.

Sweet and Savory

Spokane finally has a place to get crepes, and it's proving to be quite popular. Gina Garcia, who has garnered a loyal following with her masterful pastries, has just opened an expanded version of her Take the Cake bakery. BitterSweet Bakery and Bistro will satisfy your cravings for French pastries as well as crepes.

"I travel to France frequently, so I was trying to bring that flavor to Spokane," Garcia reveals. "The savory crepes are quite a hit for breakfast and lunch, and I'm adding five sweet crepes to the menu."

Creperies are popular in France and throughout Europe, where the light, paper-thin pancakes stuffed with a variety of fillings and drizzled with sauces star as appetizers, main dishes and desserts. Customers at BitterSweet have 10 savory crepes to choose from. The Bruno is filled with herbed chicken sausage, onions, mushrooms and roasted red peppers, served with a pesto cr & egrave;me fraiche. The Parisienne's filling is roasted turkey, Gruyere and tomato chutney. Nicoise and mixed-green salads are also featured.

BitterSweet's breakfast pastries -- like chocolate orange scones, raspberry muffins and sour-cream coffee cake -- will satisfy your cravings for morning sweets, along with your favorite espresso, cappuccino or latte. And don't forget those scrumptious desserts. Caramel nut tart, Key lime pie, three-chocolate mousse, chocolate espresso cream roulade, raspberry champagne cake and tiramisu are but a few of the lighter, less sweet and more flavorful desserts that Garcia does so well.

But Garcia has brought more than the flavors of France to Spokane. BitterSweet's decor is decidedly European -- with high-ceilinged walls done in teal, deep cocoa and olive, and cream-colored benches along the mirror-bedecked walls.

And where did the name come from?

"I love the bittersweet chocolate that I use in so many of my desserts," Garcia explains. "The process of being a business owner has been bittersweet as well. And one of my favorite cookbooks that I use for many of my recipes is titled Bittersweet."

BitterSweet, 1220 S. Grand Blvd., is open Mon-Fri from 7 am-5 pm, Sat from 8 am-3 pm. Call 455-8658.

Vaccination Happy Hour @ Spokane Arena

Wed., June 16, 5-7 p.m.
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