Peoria Restaurant Review: Sugar in the Warehouse District
We Finally Make It to Sugar
Yes, we have been trying to eat at Sugar for awhile now, but the lines stretching outside the door were a little intimidating, even knowing how the ordering process works. This can happen even before 6:00 on a weeknight, so at least you know it’s good, right? This time we went after Joel’s school conference, which meant we arrived a little before 6:00 on a Thursday, this time with no lines.
Normally you order first and then take a table and get your pizza delivered to your table, but they said because they weren’t too busy we could grab a table first. We made quick decisions and ordered the normal way. Apparently for Sugar not busy means you can find a table if you look, and by the time we left, the main dining room was nearly full and an additional dining area had been opened. It also looks like they’re setting up an enclosed patio in the front for the summer months, taking advantage of the newly widened and landscaped sidewalks of the area; should be nice, and I look forward to checking it out.
Sugar has been around for a year or two, and was one of the, if not the, first major establishment to open in the Warehouse District downtown. Created by Travis Mohlenbrink, the owner of Cracked Pepper downtown and Salt in Peoria Heights, Sugar focuses on wood-fired pizzas including, wait for it … dessert pizzas. Which we didn’t try on this visit but I’m determined to save room for next time.
Enough Ambiance, On to the Food
Sugar offers a wide variety of pizzas, from standard styles to more innovative and daring toppings (you can view their menu on their website), as well as sandwiches, salads and a few appetizers. Their pizzas come in one size and are all the same price. I’m a pizza fan (from St. Louis, so thin crust if you’re wondering), and decided to go with a Margharita as a test of a good, standard pizza; Cecile went for a Mushroom and Joel chose the kids (really?) cheese. We ordered, got our drinks and had a seat.
The restaurant is nicely decorated, using reclaimed items and maintaining the feel of the original building. You can also see them making and cooking the pizzas from where you order. After a reasonably short wait, considering they’re making everything by hand, our pizzas arrived. Conversation at the table quickly died as we tucked in.
My Margherita was just as it should be, with tomato slices, cheese and basil making a wonderful combination of sights and flavors to go with the crispy and delicious crust. Joel was quite satisfied with his cheese, but Cecile’s Mushroom may have been the highlight: a mix of mushrooms, with feta cheese and caramelized onion creating a fabulous mix of flavors. While the pizzas may not look big, none of us finished ours, and next time splitting one or two might make sense, leaving room for dessert.
Well ok, Joel did leave room for dessert; when he saw the chocolate mousse (traditional, no pizza involved) he was determined, and he declared it excellent.
It was delicious. We had heard good things and Sugar did not disappoint. These are not standard American-style pizzas (of which our local favorite is Agatuccis), but are gourmet wood-fired pizzas, a different and delicious beast altogether. And they’re done to perfection at Sugar. I look forward to trying other varieties, including the apple streusel (probably for dessert, but who knows).
Travis Mohlenbrink deserves credit for being the first restauranteur to take the leap into the Warehouse District, and it looks like it’s paying off. And not just for him, but finally for the district itself, with signs of life growing with other businesses opening and the proposed sculpture walk adding additional enticements to a long neglected area of Peoria.
Sugar is an easy walk to Dozer Park, and I anticipate some early arrivals for us this year so we can eat fabulous, wood-fired pizza for dinner and watch baseball at night. All in all, just what a downtown area should offer, and it’s nice to see it finally happening in Peoria.
Now let’s see some food trucks.