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Cheap eats: 1702

Citizen Staff Writer

TOM STAUFFER

tstauffer@tucsoncitizen.com

What: 1702

Address and phone: 1702 E. Speedway Blvd., 325-1702

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturdays

What was ordered: Slice of pizza with pepperoni ($5.60), slice with bacon ($5.60), and Hot Wings ($4.80) for a total of $17.30, well within our Cheap Eats goal of a meal for two for less than $20.

Comments: 1702 may be the name, the street number and the suffix of the phone number of this UA-area brew pup and pizza joint, but the number to remember is 49.

That’s how many different beers are currently on tap here. It’s an impressive selection of predominantly American micro-brews and interesting European selections poured by servers who are friendly and adept at narrowing the dizzying number of choices based on your preferences. They steered me to an excellent Russian stout on a recent visit that went well with a slice of pizza that was every bit as large and impressive as the beer selection.

Eric Lapie ran his Eric’s Ice Cream shop here from the mid-’70s to 2000 on the opposite end of Bentley’s in this venerable Speedway strip mall. Most recently, it was Local Dough, which featured “Bigga-Than-Yo-Face” slices of pizza, burgers and sandwiches. The food and spirits were good enough, but the service and hours of operation were rather sketchy. Lapie himself came back on board when Local Dough went under. He hired Austin Santos, one of Local Dough’s former owners, to manage the new manifestation, and they narrowed the menu to pizza, wings, breadsticks and a few salads, which seems to have resulted in better food.

There was nothing wrong with Local Dough’s pizza, and 1702 has retained their mammoth slices while upping the ante on the quality of toppings, not to mention the level of service and the overall consistency of the place.

On a recent visit, we went with bacon on one slice and pepperoni on another. Though a slice with one topping will set you back $5.60, the slices are considerably larger than the “personal pizzas” available at other joints, or even medium pies for that matter. The style is New York, with a thin, floppy crust and a light touch with the sauce. The bacon was crumbled from a good, thick-sliced variety. As with the bacon, the pepperoni was generously portioned on the gigantic slices. This is not a case of quantity at the expense of quality, as 1702′s pie can hold its own with some of the better by-the-slice joints in town.

An order of Hot Wings ($4.80) wasn’t overly impressive. The spicy heat of the sauce was well-gauged, as it built a nice, residual level that buzzed the lips in that certain special, endorphic way without overwhelming the tongue and nose early on. The chicken itself was slightly sour tasting, and the six wings lacked the level of crispiness that would have better contrasted the soft meat and better complemented the buffalo sauce.

For such a narrowly focused menu, there’s a pleasant bit of originality, as 1702 offers Hop Bread – fresh leaf hops sprinkled over strips of “Garlic Cheezie Bread” and served with a side of marinara – and soup made daily from scratch by Lapie himself.

1702 has great suds, good food and an ├╝ber-comfortable, no-attitude feel. It has the potential to become the kind of timeless hangout that current UA students will recall with fond memories after they move on, in much the same way generations of former students recall Eric’s Ice Cream.

Service: Friendly and knowledgeable

Bar: Beer and wine.

Children’s menu: no

Web site: 1702az.com

Most recent health inspection: A “Needs Improvement” rating Jan. 5. A critical violation was reported for food holding and storage time not within food safety limits.

Pizza, beer selections shine at UA-area spot

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