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Marilyn Hagerty: Any way you slice it, food choices are wholesome and different at Up North Pizza Pub

Salads, sandwiches and soups are featured along with pizza at Up North Pizza Pub. It's a restaurant inside a pizza pub. And it has a key location at the corner of Fourth Street N.W. and DeMers Avenue in East Grand Forks.

My mission was to try the restaurant offerings on a wintry day. When struck with the thought of the Muffuletta on the menu, I ordered a quarter-size of this big sandwich — only to find it just had been taken off the menu.

Later, I learned the managers of the relatively new place are making changes to the menu. After five months in business, they are fine-tuning their offerings to meet the choices of customers. I ended up with a small bowl of soup that was quite tasty and full of vegetables. With it, I had a fresh-tasting half sandwich on a bun. It was filled with a pleasing mix of cheese, turkey and lettuce. Though I was disappointed my first choice on the menu was not available, I was pleased with the use of wild rice and vegetables such as green beans in many of the offerings.

I visited the well-equipped kitchen and met Mike Holtz, the chef. He is trying combinations that seem to be clicking with the Up North clientele.

And he is looking forward to a beer pairing dinner on Feb. 22.

Since opening the last week of August, Up North has been attracting visitors who seem to be discovering the new place in East Grand Forks. There are trivia games that attract customers on Thursday nights.

While many customers come for beer and pizza, there are others who show up at all hours for coffee ($2) or salads and sandwiches in the large facility. There are windows all around, with seating for 133 at the bar or at tables.

The decor is bright, clean and uncluttered. The urban contemporary design uses reclaimed wood and metal.

Up North Pizza and Pub

314 Fourth St. N.W., East Grand Forks

• Reservations: (218) 399-0200.

• Owners: Jesse Johnson, Justin Laroque, Alex and Britt Belquist.

• Hours: 11 a.m. daily to midnight Sunday through Wednesday; 2 a.m. closing Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

• Menu: Salads, sandwiches, soups, sides, along with pizza.

• Report card: Food choices are wholesome and different from usual offerings. Chef Mike Holtz is dancing to the music to figure out customer preferences. Surroundings are spacious and inviting. Prices are moderate.

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