Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fans of Good Stuff Eatery proprietor Spike Mendelsohn have a lot to be excited about this summer. The former "Top Chef" contestant just released "The Good Stuff Cookbook" (Wiley), his first, which is full of the same kind of comfort food found on his restaurant's menu. The book includes a few local shout-outs, such as a burger Mendelsohn dedicates to fellow Canadian and Washington Capitals star Mike Green.

In addition to his literary ventures, the 29-year-old chef is getting set to open a 100-seat pizzeria next door to his Capitol Hill burger joint. Mendelsohn hopes to have We the Pizza up and running in four to six weeks. The six gas ovens are in place, and the kitchen has been churning out cheese pies while the chef and business partner Mike Colletti try to perfect his dough.

Mendelsohn wants We the Pizza's signature to be a standout crust. "It's a real science coming up with a good dough," he says. "I put our dough room downstairs in a cave to make sure our temperature and humidity was stable. I'm looking for a lot of flavor. I think a lot of pizzerias under-salt their crust. And I want some salt. I want some sweetness, and I want a nice, yeasty flavor."

In addition to pizza, diners can look forward to house-made gelato. It will be produced in the custard machine that's used to make Good Stuff's milkshakes, then stored in and served from sealed containers to keep the flavors fresh.

The gelato will be housed next to an old-fashioned soda fountain that will serve Italian-inspired libations as well as classics like the egg cream.

And the look behind the fountain? "They may just be wearing a T-shirt that says 'Jerk,' " Mendelsohn says, "but we're fighting for a uniform. You can't have an old-school soda fountain without a uniform."

-- Justin Rude

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