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A seriously good use of $20

Bargain eats for wine lovers can be tough to find, especially in the high tax district of downtown Minneapolis. More often than not a quick bite and a glass turns into sticker shock once it adds up.

I remember clearly stepping into a beloved local institution of a restaurant off Marquette Avenue, determined to have a quick bite and a glass of decent wine during happy hour. After all was said and done, the bill with tax was over $28, so I left with $35 less than I came in with after tip.

So I’m here to tell you, as a diner who enjoys great pizza and great wine, there is nothing better than the Red Rabbit Spicy Salami Pizza with the Salandini Pilastri Rosso Piceno … the “Jason’s combo.”

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[Note: As many of you know, I do consulting with the Red Cow/Red Rabbit group (training of the staff, wine selections, much more) but I want to make this clear: I don’t get any discounts on my food or wine there, and I don’t have any skin in the game when it comes to what sells or what does not. I write about this simply because I love it and buy it often.]

The Spicy Salami pizza at Red Rabbit is one of my favorite dishes in town. The crust is thin but not cracker crisp, with just enough wood burned char to remind me of my favorite pizzas in the country (Cotogna in San Francisco and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix). The edge crust is delicious to the extreme thanks to the 48 hour proofing and sourdough like starter that rotates through every batch. The spicy salami is big and rich, but not overtly either if you know what I mean. The best part? A thin drizzle of Bare chili spiced honey, adding a touch of perfect sweetness. Damn this is good, and only $13 normally (still a great price) … but at Happy Hour it’s only $8!

Then the wine. Saladini Pilastri is an outstanding producer on the Adriatic side of Italy, and their Rosso Piceno is a go-to bargain wine for me. Biodynamically farmed, family owned and operated, and composed of a blend of Sangiovese and Montepulicano. Medium bodied, a touch spicy, a touch earthy, a touch rustic, and waves of big raspberry fruit. It reminds me of many of the ‘country wines’ I’ve enjoyed in Enotecas throughout Italy over the years … the kind of wine you’re amazed costs so little but tastes so good. It’s normally a steal at $7 a glass, but at Happy Hour it’s only $5.

(Happy hour at Red Rabbit runs from 3-6pm and 10-close everyday.)

The grand total? A Spicy Salami Pizza and a 6 ounce glass of Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno, with tax, at happy hour, is $14.56. If you’re a generous tipper like me, that makes for an easy $20 night on the town enjoying a perfect pizza made with locally sourced ingredients and a glass of family produced and biodynamically farmed wine.

Life doesn’t get better than that.

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Saladini'

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