Italian food gets Spike'd

Becoming super-proficient in the basics can take you a long way, like how John Stockton's mastery of the chest pass led him to average a career double-double, or how LeBron's mastery of freakish athleticism leads him to posterize people who look like John Stockton. Continuing to artfully master the most fundamental of foods: the chef behind We, The Pizza.

We is lovable Top Chef'er Spike Mendelsohn's shot at conquering/elevating the basic pie, sitting next to the famed Good Stuff joint where he did the same with the burger; the space's a black/white-tiled double-decker, with an ordering counter on the ground floor and a pizza-pan-adorned staircase leading to an upstairs with 90+ booth/table seats and walls accented by photos of the USA Pizza Team, the existence of which is a pretty reasonable excuse for our bikini team's mediocrity. Stone-hearthed pies (14'', 16'', or by the slice) run from basics to inventiveness like the wild forest mushrooms/truffles/mozz Forest Shroomin and the Roasted Potato and Pancetta with caramelized onions, mozz, and fresh rosemary; other Italiano fun includes a slow-roasted pork/fennel mustard seed slaw "Porchetta" sub, and pizza oven-cooked wings in flavors like Original Garlic covered in Parmesan, wild thyme, and Eureka Lemon, which'll be completely incapable of vacuuming up up after that wild thyme. To wash it down, they've got six carefully selected taps (stored in an underground, 32-degree chiller), including the seasonal-only Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, the just-out Batch 19, made according to a pre-Prohibition recipe found on a burned piece of paper, and their very own We, The Brew, a "Yuengling-like" lager with cloves/ginger citrus specifically designed to complement pizza -- something Michelangelo would do, but not Raphael, the guy is just too rude.

They've also got 12 old-fashioned house-made sodas (from the "Good Morning Vietnam Coffee Soda", to the "Co, Co, Nut"), and a rotating array of gelato, house-made with dairy imported from a Pennsylvanian Amish farm -- whose most-athletic residents dunk on people, then turn to the crowd and raise the barn.