Editor’s Note: Sauce Pizza and Wine is now closed.
There’s a new Sauce in town – and it’s not the Soundbar.* The transplant of a Fox Restaurant Concepts-driven Arizona chain, Sauce’s first Minnesota location opened Monday in St. Louis Park’s Shops at West End.
The eatery is fashioned along the same lines as a Noodles & Company or counter service Punch Pizza: computerized menus line the wall leading to the cashier; large Italian-style decals adorn the walls. The menu is concise yet efficient, ranging from salads to pizza to pasta, with a basic wine list and a small, unglamorous beer selection.
A first sample of a Chicken & Pine Nuts salad ($7.75) was dressed in vinaigrette and pungent gorgonzola; a slight upgrade to grilled chicken breast from the sliced deli meat could have improved the texture. A Vegetable & Avocado salad ($6.75) had a subtler flavor, with a mixture of corn, carrot, asparagus, and cucumber providing a nice crunch. Both salads were heavily dressed; ask for the dressing on the side if you like your lettuce crisp.
The ‘sauce’ theme carries on in the Meatballs and Red Sauce ($5 / small, $8 / large – oddly listed on the back of the menu with the drinks and desserts), which comprised al dente shells and three large, ho-hum meatballs tossed in a nicely seasoned, smooth marinara. The pizza, however, was a puzzle: Despite the red spiral on the menu denoting red sauce, a thin stripe of red beneath the Mozzarella, Fontina Cheese, & Basil ($8.75) was the only evidence of sauce on the thin crust pie – at which our party wondered, “If they don’t use sauce on the pizza, shouldn’t the place be called ‘Crust?'” A Rosemary & Potato version ($9.75) boasted no noticeable sauce whatsoever, but made up for it with a generous sprinkling of mozzarella, feta, spinach, and a decorative swirl of olive tapenade. Thin slices of potato offered starch and substance to offset an otherwise salty combination, providing a chewy texture unlike the Garlic Mashed Potato pizza of Pizza Luce fame.
As the event we attended was a free media preview, Sauce was still working out a few kinks — pasta arrived before the salad course, servers were still learning details of the menu items. However, what some of our servers lacked in panache they compensated with eager smiles and a willingness to keep our water glasses full.
Sauce doesn’t provide fine dining – rather, it offers fast, decent food at reasonable prices, with friendly service to boot. This place should be a hit with shoppers at the mall and, with their inaugural summer sampler deal (one pizza, one salad, and two glasses of wine for $20), could easily become a destination for a cheap yet tasty meal.
*Sauce Spirits & Soundbar is slated to change its name this September, as Fox Restaurant Concepts owns the rights to the name.
Sauce Pizza & Wine
1610 West End Blvd
Saint Louis Park, MN 55416
Sun-Thur 11am – 9pm
Fri-Sat 11am to 10pm
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $8-$10.50