The Backyard Brick Oven Pizza & Pub

Food: () Pizza is thin and burnt, salads uninspired, and most appetizers deep-fried

Service: () Young staff tries hard to please despite moments of inattentiveness

Atmosphere: () Spacious and friendly, but a backyard would add some character

More Info

Location: 63130 NE Lancaster St., Bend

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: Pizza, salads, sandwiches

Price range: Appetizers $7 to $16, salads $4 to $14, hot sandwiches $11, pizzas $10 to $26

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Master Card, Visa

Kids’ menu: Four options priced at $7

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Veggie pizzas can be made gluten-free on request

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: None

Reservations: No

Contact: facebook.com/backyard.pizza.pub, 541-306-6393

T he Backyard is a new pizza pub near Empire Avenue in northeast Bend.

It has no backyard. It does have an extensive menu of hot sandwiches, salads and appetizers to complement its choice of pizzas. The pub promises to be a magnet for neighborhood sports fans with its 21 flat-screen TVs tuned to a variety of events.

But based upon my two recent visits to the Backyard, the only reason I’d be likely to return — other than to watch Sunday football games on multiple screens this fall — would be to enjoy more of the pub’s wings, the best thing on the menu, available in eight sauces.

In a small market complex on Lancaster Street, just off the northbound Bend Parkway, the Backyard is a spacious and friendly room that makes it impossible to avoid the sports theme: With all those televisions, there’s no room for memorabilia.

The main dining area, filled with tables and a row of window-side booths, flows into the lounge area, occupied mostly by high tables and bar stools. Service on both sides of the pub lacks a little on the attentiveness scale, especially with regard to follow-up requests, but the young staff is good with orders and tries hard to please.

Lunch specials

A $10 lunch special, offered daily, is an obvious choice for budget watchers. This includes a three-item individual pizza, a house salad and a soft drink.

But I’m not a fan of the Backyard’s brick-oven pizzas, which are very thin-crust, New York-style pies. My toppings were fine — my choices were minced Italian sausage, mushrooms and black olives — but the charred dough wasn’t to my taste.

I also didn’t care for the salad. Romaine and other lettuces were coarsely chopped and served with halved pear tomatoes, shredded carrots and red onions, thickly sliced cucumbers and house-made croutons. A serving of honey mustard dressing, one of seven made in-house, was more sweet than tart.

On another visit with my regular dining companion, we agreed that the Caesar salad also fell short of the mark with a too-garlicky dressing.

I prefer a Caesar with full leaves of romaine. At the Backyard, they were finely chopped before topping with croutons and shredded Parmesan cheese.

Wings and more

But I did love the wings. The Backyard offers a choice between bone-in and boneless, priced identically. I opted for the latter, which made the half-dozen tender bites easy to spear with a fork and dip. I enjoyed the “Asian sweet and spicy” sauce, but I’m sure I would have been similarly happy with “mango habanero” or “Parmesan garlic” or “chipotle,” to name but three.

Another of the appetizers, a veggies-and-hummus dip, failed to satisfy. The chickpeas in the house-made hummus were coarsely ground and, as with the Caesar dressing, too heavy in garlic. It overwhelmed the vegetable sides (carrots, cucumbers and broccoli) and the toasted slices of French bread.

A meatball sandwich was just OK. Like the marinara sauce in which they were served, the meatballs were made in-house, but the serving of sauce could have been a little more generous to keep the meat moist and flavorful. They were served on a hoagie roll from Big Ed’s Artisan Bakery and topped with mozzarella cheese. (Gluten-free bread from the Good Karma Bakery is available for an extra $2.) A side of Tater Tots turned out to be one of our Backyard favorites.

And, of course, we ordered a medium-sized (12-inch) house-special pizza, “The Backyard.” Again, its thin crust was burnt, more so even than the individual pizza had been. Graciously, the toppings were excellent — four meats (ham, pepperoni, sausage and meatballs) with mushrooms, onion, a mix of red and green bell peppers, and tangy pepperoncini.

Sandwiches and apps

The sandwich menu at the Backyard includes the usual suspects — hot pastrami, French dip and Italian, for instance — along with several steak sandwiches, a Hawaiian ham and cheese, a chicken pesto with Swiss, and more. The Backyard Steak Sandwich sounds suspiciously like a Philly, with grilled onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and Provolone cheese.

The appetizer list, save the wings, is heavily slanted to the deep-fried pub crowd with fried onion rings, mushrooms, zucchini spears, pickle slices and mozzarella sticks, to name but a few. There’s also pizza bread and garlic cheese bread.

I find a selection like that to be completely uninspiring. But I’m sure regular patrons from the northeast Bend neighborhood will come to love it.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at janderson@bendbulletin.com.

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