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Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008

Dining Destination

Transfer’s tasty makeover

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In recent years Walker’s Point and Bay View have become incubators for some of the area’s most interesting restaurants. In the shadow of the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower there are now places like Chez Jacques, Marchese’s Olive Pit and Triskele’s. In spring of this year, another unique eatery opened up. Transfer, which bills itself as a pizzeria and cafe, occupies the site of a former cafe on the corner of Mitchell and Second streets, named Scrambled Ed’s, that had been vacant for several years.

After a remarkable renovation, the place has come alive again. A counter and bar sit in the center of the restaurant, and you can still spot remnants from when the building was a corner drugstore named Transfer Pharmacy. Local artists display attention-grabbing works that lend even more character to the setting. As you would expect, the place is often busy and filled with the sounds of conversation.

The specialty, of course, is pizza. The menu offers 40 different types to choose from (and diners can customize their own). The talent behind them is Vasyl Lemberskyy, a native of the Ukraine who honed his skills in Italy. He makes a very distinctive crust that is on the thin side, but still a bit puffy. The light texture allows the sauces to be applied sparingly. The majority of the pizzas use a base of tomato sauce, while others are prepared with garlic sauce. The garlic is roasted, which soothes its bite.

La Bella ($10-$16) adds artichoke hearts, a few onions and a light topping of cheese to the garlic sauce, making for a fine vegetarian pizza. There is also a cheese-free, vegan version named Bob’s Special ($10-$16), with garlic sauce, mushrooms, avocado, spinach and onion. With a crust this good, the cheese is not even missed.

While pizza is the main reason to visit Transfer, the menu also includes starters, salads and a few pastas. The house salad ($4) is a simple mixture of leaf lettuces complemented by cucumber slices, tomatoes and red onions. The balsamic vinaigrette is applied in the right amount. Aglio gamberetti ($11) is a salad of shrimp and lettuce, aided by peeled cucumber, sweet red pepper, garlic, pesto and one very untraditional ingredient: curry powder. The pastas change daily and are served with a choice of five sauces. Some are vegetarian and others contain meat. Diavola ($8) is just a bit spicy, due to its sauce of olive oil, sweet red and hot red pepper, onion and thin shreds of ham. The spiciness of the peppers combined with a touch of tartness plays with the taste buds. Ordering a vegetarian version, minus the ham, should be equally rewarding.

The service is friendly and quite helpful to first-time visitors looking to find the right pizza. There are as many choices of beer as of wine, and the prices are fair: Wine by the glass is $4-$9, bottles $15-$32. There is a cafe menu with the usual cast of espresso, latte and cappuccino as well. Lunches offer paninis and a $6 pizza special with one topping. On busy nights, solo diners and couples can nearly always find seats at the counter. Larger groups may experience a wait.

Transfer has all of the elements of success: reasonable prices, a fun setting and pizzas that are truly exceptional.

TRANSFER PIZZERIA AND CAFE 101 W. Mitchell St. 763-0438 $$ Credit Cards: MC, VS, DS Smoke Free Handicap Access: Yes

Transfer | Photos by Tate Bunker

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