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The Dough Room

Feb 11, 2019 03:30PM
by Scott & Lisa Gilyard

The Dough Room is Wayzata's newest dining spot, and it's going to be a winner in this thriving restaurant scene.

After a handful of visits, there is one word that comes to mind: passion. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and felt like the place didn’t have a soul?  That is not the feeling or the vibe you will get at The Dough Room. There is an obvious passion for excellence and authenticity in the food, the smartly crafted beverage program, and the well trained staff focused on friendly hospitality.

Upon our arrival, we were met with an immediate and lovely greeting from the host staff in the impressive foyer.  Once seated, our server was professional, yet warm and genuine, ready to attend to our curiosities and wishes. Throughout the meal we were impressed by not only her mastery of the basics (introducing the The Dough Room concept and her knowledge of the menu) but also her mastery of more subtle things like the mood of the table (a celebration? a quiet night out? somewhere in between?).  She let us establish the timing of the meal, and had a good read on the amount of input to give us. In other words, she stopped and talked when appropriate. She didn't dominate our experience, just enhanced it.

The bar hosts an interesting and thoughtfully constructed cocktail program.  There are several classic specialty cocktails carefully curated by Jeff Erkkila of Earl Giles and The Dough Room.  Each possesses a special “tweak” for interest and creativity. Our favorite example is the Negroni, which incorporates locally distilled, Nordic-heritage Gamle Ode “Holiday” Aquavit, British Colonial style Fords Gin and blended Italian bitters surrounding a beautiful clear ice cube block.  It’s a cocktail that is rooted in each ingredient’s authentic origin, brought together without pretension. The ingredients are very well thought through, but it is not a focal point to highlight the brand names. The new creation is the subject worth naming.

As a progressive twist, and a happy hour soon-to-be-favorite, they serve The Daisy, a cosmopolitan-like cocktail that is batch-made and available on tap, with a beautiful presentation in a fine coupe glass.

The wine list has been carefully curated and is wisely heavy on Italian Wines.  And it is also nicely spritzed with choices from California and Oregon, many that are made from traditionally Italian grape varietals.  The wines are organized based on their expressions, and as such, it is approachable for folks who may not be as knowledgeable of the complicated and numerous types of available Italian Wines.   However, if you like Oregon Pinot Noir, there’s a wine on this list that will satisfy you. If you are itchy to have a bottle of Gruner Veltliner, there are wines that will scratch that itch from areas of Italy that will take you close to the traditional Gruner production areas and styles - and maybe even open your palate to a new varietal.  

Scott Anderson created the list after working with The Dough Room’s principal architects, Chef Alex Dayton and consultant Peter Campbell of Red Wagon Pizza, at some of their past postings.  Scott is really into this wine list and his passion is infectious. We think that Italian wine aficionados (Italian Stallions and all of that) will be satisfied. But, folks that would prefer that their server recommends which “table wine” (or wines by the glass) matches their tastes or menu selections, will be well satisfied too.  Corkage is also available for those who have special bottles at home to bring in. And that policy is embraced not discouraged, both by attitude and pricing.

The third and probably most important passion we experienced was the creatively expressed Italian food.   This entails finding the best local ingredients, letting Chef Dayton’s creativity play a role in the menu items, and taking no shortcuts in preparation.  Simply put, if you are looking for an interesting, solid expression of pasta, pizza and animal proteins, you won’t be disappointed.

The pizza has a substantial, yet not overbearing crust made from heritage flour sourced from Sunrise Flour Mill.  The Margherita Pizza included burrata cheese, and the tomatoes and basil tasted and smelled incredibly fresh.

The chicken breast was a savory, tender delight:  beautifully golden, sliced and served on a wonderfully full flavored, lip-smacking au jus.

The broccolini was a generous portion, placed atop a sunflower butter spread, designed to smooth out the spicy fermented chili vinaigrette that it is topped with.   

The bigoli pasta highlighted Chef Dayton’s experience with pasta.  Slightly bigger in diameter than spaghetti, the texture was chewy, toothy, and cooked to a beautiful al dente.  The preparation was simple and again savory, with a little spice from the black pepper. Although there isn’t a formal children’s menu, the bigoli also happens to be the pasta used for the classic kid’s fare of noodles with butter.  We’re going to have that ourselves in a future visit. It’s got to be awesome!

The cannelloni was stuffed with duck confit and topped with a pecorino béchamel and baby roasted turnips, a perfect seasonal veggie.  This dish was previously topped with charred sweet corn, and will likely adjust with the seasons. Rich and decadent; local and seasonal.  

All of the pastas we tried were very obviously fresh-made in the kitchen built based on Chef Dayton’s considerable experience in his past restaurant work in the Twin Cities and San Francisco.   He has been posting Instagram photos of the “pasta lab” as it was being created, and his recipes were being tested. His team’s work was well worth the effort and there are few pasta “joints” in the Twin Cities that take this kind of care to prepare wonderful pasta from heritage flour.

Although we didn’t taste any beef or pork (yet), it is worth noting that Chef Dayton will be espousing a “whole animal” concept, utilizing all of the animal, one at a time.  This means that whatever protein you order will be from the animal in their dry-aged cooler, with cuts selected each morning for that given day. No vacuum sealed steaks involved.  The beef and pork are sourced from Peterson Meats. It’s initial dry aging has occurred before it arrives at the Dough Room, only to be continued as Chef Dayton requires in his own cooler.  This is clearly another point of passion and focus.

As with all meals, we felt there were a couple of items that did not shine quite as much as others.  A couple of the dishes tended to slightly be “over spiced” to our tastes, whether the spicy broccolini or the full flavored and slightly salty bigoli pasta.  It should be noted that this observation is a matter of taste. Chef Dayton is no wilting flower, whether in creativity, modern Italian food construction, or the flavors - which are nothing but bold, savory and memorable.   You can’t really argue with flavor when it is authentic, and when it delivers on the promise of passion.

In summary, you can develop an understanding of The Dough Room by thinking “progressive, contemporary, house made; locally sourced and flavorful; delivered in a passionate way, in a beautiful space”.  

The Dough Room is not your grandmother’s Italian kitchen.  The menu anchors you in Italy, and adds some interesting ballast from the local vegetable markets, heritage flour mills for pasta and pizza crust, and local whole animal proteins, carved for you.  It’s definitely a journey worth taking.

The Dough Room
300 Superior Blvd. 
Wayzata, MN
(952) 473-6500

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