Ratsie's

American, Italian, Pizza
$$$$ ($14 and under)
'

Editorial Review

Perched on the edge of the University of Maryland in College Park, Ratsie's calls itself "a terrapin eatery." Its interior is covered with photographs of the University of Maryland; banners of colleges and universities from across the country hang from the ceiling.

But judging by its clientele, this deli/pizzeria is popular with more than just students. In the red and white restaurant, business people and university faculty in suits and ties sit among the khaki-clad and T-shirt-sporting crowd of students, all enjoying subs and chicken wings and Ratsie's heaping salads. The salads range from the house version with mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes ($2.95) to the jerk salad, with grilled strips of Jamaican jerk chicken, romaine lettuce and croutons ($5.75).

But, according to the owner Ali Rasoulpour, Ratsie's is best known for pizza--their biggest seller. The pizza's thick crust can be covered with standard toppings as well as red onions, spicy beef, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked Gouda or fontina cheese. Rasoulpour says the dough is made fresh every morning and all pizzas are made from scratch so it does take a little more time to get your order than it does at other pizza places. But Ratsie's apologizes for the delay up front. Their menu says, "Good food takes time. All our food is prepared fresh daily--We appreciate your patience."

Other interesting pizzas? Try the bianco (garlic, fontina, sun-dried tomatoes and spices), the Caribbean (jerk chicken, smoked Gouda and green onions) or the four-cheese pizza topped with spinach.

But don't overlook the calzones. You can order The Terp, The Bird or the Route One, which is stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta and your choice of pizza toppings. The Terp has mozzarella, smoked Gouda, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and green onions. There are also two cheese-free calzones (all are priced between $5.25 and $5.95).

On Monday nights Ratsie's is packed for 25-cents-apiece chicken wings. Sunday through Thursday, from 4 p.m. till closing, pitchers of beer are available for $3.50.

-- Denise Riley