Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Fox take on pizza is classic

Citizen Staff Writer
Cheap eats: Sauce

TOM STAUFFER

tstauffer@tucsoncitizen.com

What: Sauce

Address and phone: 2990 N. Campbell Ave. (795-0344), also 5285 E. Broadway (514-1122) and 7117 N. Oracle Road (297-8575)

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

What was ordered: Mozzarella & Fontina Cheese & Basil pizza ($8.75), Salami, Turkey, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Panini ($8) for a total of $18.11 including tax, within our Cheap Eats goal of a meal for two for less than $20.

Comments: There’s no middle ground around here with the war over Sam Fox and his ever-expanding empire of restaurants.

People seem to either love or hate Fox and his varied culinary endeavors. More than a few of his detractors have let me know that my integrity as a food reviewer was totally shot by having had the unmitigated gall to even set foot in a Fox restaurant (I’ve set foot in all of the Tucson ones), as if my integrity was otherwise unblemished.

Given that even more people are just as passionate and contentious when it comes to what pizza should taste like, Fox’s take on pie – Sauce – may be his most polemical concept to date. It’s also quite possibly his most successful, as there are currently 10 locations – three in Tucson, six in Phoenix, and one in Denver. I use the word currently because Fox opens restaurants the way Walgreens opens drug stores, so by the time you read this, he may have well added another to his empire.

If you’re a fan of Chicago’s deep-dish festival of dough, you’ll think you’re eating a tortilla ormatzo at Sauce. Sauce’s ├╝ber-thin crust is not quite as crackery as the unleavened St. Louis style, but is not quite as floppy and chewy as New York style. It’s somewhere between the two, or what some would consider a classic Roman style that holds sway in the Trastevere district, with a simultaneously crispy and chewy crust.

Sauce’s Mozzarella & Fontina Cheese & Basil pizza ($8.75) had a delicate – but not skimpy – balance of cheese and tomato sauce, giving off a nice assortment of sweet, salty and acidic flavors to the pie. It’s a simple collection of good ingredients simply prepared to yield a clean, fresh flavor profile.

Equally simple and satisfying was the Salami, Turkey, Prosciutto & Mozzarella Panini ($8), a well-stuffed sandwich served with a side of Red Wine Vinaigrette. As with the pizza, an excellent balance was achieved with the panini’s constituents. The thin-sliced turkey and mozzarella held sway, but were smartly outfitted with a spicy stab from the salami and the richly salty prosciutto, which was generously portioned, particularly given its quality. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the vinaigrette, but it added a nice acidity, and I found myself dabbing the panini into it before every bite.

Sauce does a brisk lunch and dinner business, recession or no recession. This place is used to being busy, so you’ll get in and out in no time, despite that the casual, well-prepared food will most likely have you slowing down to savor its simple, delicate goodness.

Service: Order at the counter and a server brings your food to your table. Service, as is consistently the case with Fox joints, was prompt, energetic and friendly.

Bar: Beer and wine

Children’s menu: yes

Web site: foxrestaurantconcepts.com/sauce

Most recent health inspection: A “Good” rating Jan. 21. A critical violation was reported for potentially hazardous foods not held at proper cooling temperature.

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