Black Sheep must have strategically chosen its location. Not only does it face Washington Avenue to attract patrons from the Warehouse District with aromas of hot tomatoes and cheese, it’s next to a pub that makes the lengthy wait for a table more enjoyable. We should have called to see if reservations were an option on a snowy Friday night, but the 45-minute wait list leads us to believe it’s first-come, first-seated. Other Black Sheep hopefuls sipped beer on the stairs that connect the front door to the dining room, but we’d recommend spending the wait next door at The Loop with plenty of seats and a better beer selection.
Black Sheep’s small space, which matched the Warehouse vibe with exposed ceilings and rough walls, explained the inevitable bottleneck at the door. Maybe the space constraints are responsible for the small beer menu and even smaller pizza list. For pizza-lovers who aren’t fans of salami or olives, pickings are slim. And we were shocked to find some pies came without sauce or cheese (did we really need to visit the kitchen and explain the concept of American pizza?). Had we wanted to spend $30, we could have crafted a make-your-own pizza, but we went the economical route and chose from the pre-set list.
To start, we split the Bleu cheese salad while our dinner dates tried the bread and marinara. The sharp crumbles of cheese tossed with sliced grape tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves made for a refreshing first course, and the herbed bread was served warm next to a flavorful dipping sauce. After the seating delay, we all enjoyed the starters even more than usual, but were careful to leave room for the main attraction.
Through a process of elimination, we opted for the Meatball, Ricotta and Garlic – a decision we’d repeat. The coal-fired oven crisped the outside of the crust while leaving the inside soft, and melded the impressive amount of toppings with a hot layer of cheese. After two pieces, we were stuffed. The remainder of our large 16″ pie had to be boxed, which made for a convenient Saturday lunch.
Service was fair – not outstanding, but not dismal. Overall, we’d say the wait was worthwhile. Though the offerings were simple, our well-constructed pizza may persuade us to return and try other menu combinations we initially found boring or unappealing. But next time, we’ll expect the crowd … and give a nearby bar a little of our business, too.
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Menu Selection: ♠♠
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠1/2
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠
Total bill, including tip: $46