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BAY WATCH

If Coos Bay can pack in as many diners as it does, we figured we could somehow find room for dessert. A pear tart ($3.50) paired thin slivers of the fruit with a delectable short-crust pastry. A real raspberry coulis (the cheap commercial sludge tastes like it could be strawberry) painted on the plate with a creme anglaise was a great visual but did nothing for the delicate tart; on the other hand, its tangy sweetness was bliss underneath a hazelnut tuille filled with three scoops of chocolate mousse ($4). The mousse's texture was both fluffy and creamy at the same time, and the chocolate was potent, although not so much so that we had to clear our throats after every bite.

Although Davy and Myers work together to come up with most of the entree and appetizer recipes, Davy alone is responsible for the scrumptious desserts. Myers, however, can take all the credit for that powerful pesto, which we sampled again during a visit at lunch--a time slot that's not as popular, although the room remained full during most of our meal.

In a nod to the building's last resident--Dolcamino's left behind its monstrous oven--Coos Bay serves a variety of pizzas. When the place opened earlier this year, Davy and company even offered Dolcamino's killer garlic pizza (which won Westword's Best of Denver award in 1993), but after they found that diners were ordering more of their newer creations, they dropped it (although they'll still make the pie on request). We tried the pesto pizza ($7.80), an individual-sized pizza made with feta, pancetta, mozzarella and, usually, Kalamata olives (we asked the kitchen to hold them). Coos Bay's crust is Italian-style: thin, light and studded with little pockets of air. The pesto proved itself once again, and the pancetta added a welcome saltiness. The seafood pizza ($9.50) wasn't as successful; the garlic had been roasted to oblivion, the artichokes were lacking their usual earthiness and, although the menu offered "grilled shrimp or scallops," the four scallops' worth of slices weren't grilled (for that matter, the shrimp aren't grilled either, says Davy, who doesn't seem to know why the menu was written that way). I might have been better off ordering the marinara sauce (the pizzas come either white or red)--but while the tomatoes might have perked things up, they probably would have overwhelmed the scallops.

The kitchen made a comeback with the Multnomah Falls spinach salad ($6.60). The ingredients were unfailingly fresh and the combination wonderful: Mildly wilted, bright-green spinach leaves had been evenly coated with a warm, pancetta-spotted dressing gussied up with chilled caramelized onions, roasted red bell peppers and jagged pillows of goat cheese. When I got a bite containing a little something of everything, it was as though all of life had suddenly come into focus and Elvis had been spotted at the bar.

I hope not. As it is, it's tough enough getting into Coos Bay.

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