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Whitewater Pizza and Pasta

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Whitewater Pizza and Pasta looks like a ski chalet for kayakers: old boats, oars and life jackets hang from the lofty, red rafters. It's the kind of place you'd go for a beer if you were done tackling river rapids because it's bright, not fancy and packed with log furniture. In fact, a kayaker could actually go there after a day of play because they serve food until 10 p.m. ... except for the fact that it is way out on Fairview and there are no nearby rivers.

It's Friday night. Curiously, the place is not empty. Dirt and I sit at a booth equipped for maybe eight, and the wooden table has knotholes filled with crumbs from previous dinners. Nasty. Fortunately, there's a lot of room to move away from the remnants.

The menu has--duh--pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches and other noshables. We start with red, white and blue nachos that come with mounds of chicken, cheese and other typical nachoey goods. The big plus: sour cream and salsa on the side, so even at the end they are crunchalicious! Score one for Whitewater.

Before we finish the nachos, the food comes out. This happens for one of two reasons--either the nachos are so big we can't finish in a reasonable amount of time or because it's nearing closing and they want us out.

I order the "guest favorite" penne, which comes with trace amounts of several vegetables, chicken and pretty blobs of ricotta, all covered in a way-too-peppery, way-too-rich cream sauce. A hunk of cheesy bread is sidelined on the plate. Dirt orders a 12-inch pizza with basil, garlic and fresh tomatoes. It is a fat pizza, more Chicago than New York, and appears larger than 12 inches. Trails of steam from the pasta prompt me to grab a slice of pizza first. Sauce oozes from the slice, and I spend more time neatening up than tasting. Lots of food, little taste. No points gained, Whitewater remains at one point.

I'm full and there isn't a dent in the pasta, so in the name of fair reporting, I hurl my fork into the velvety penne mixture. One bite is all I can manage (probably even in an empty-stomach situation). It is so rich, I can barely swallow one mouthful. Dirt, despite being a human garbage disposal, is on a surfeit weight-gain diet, so he dives in feral-like, the way he does with everything, and then stops. It is just too gluttonous. I take one point away from Whitewater's score for this gnarly mess. Final score: zero.

Whitewater Pizza and Pasta is neither memorable nor terrible. Admittedly I have never even been in a kayak, let alone eaten pizza in one, and maybe that's a key I am missing: After a day of hard splashing around, beer and nachos are really what you're after, not pizza or pasta.

--Jennifer Gelband knows that PFD is the preferred term for lifejacket.

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