RUSTY PELICAN CAFɍ 1924 N. 45th, 545-9090 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri. & Sat.
A sea of pale green paint. A gigantic multi-leveled space. A wall of windows looking out at the ice cream parlor across the street. Xeroxed signs about neighborhood benefit auctions. A radial dessert case with pies and cakes rotating slowly, endlessly, alluringly. An entire wall filled with Wizard of Oz collectors plates. You are, in fact, back home in Kansas, Dorothy.
The Rusty Pelican has, thankfully, neither rust nor pelicans. Instead, it offers a comforting place that Wallingfordians can walk to with their cranky children and relax. Crayons and bottomless iced tea are delivered. Servers are tolerant and speedy. Booths are roomy enough for those cranky children to hide under the table until the word “dessert” is mentioned. It is up to you, tired Wallingfordian, to determine whether this is behavior worthy of dessert.
The dinner menu is all over the place—gyros belly up to burgers, pizza, and $14 salmon specials; flip it over and you’ll find “breakfast all day,” including banana pancakes. The gyro ($8.75) is goopy with oddly sweet dressing—filling, but forgettable. The pizzas, available in medium (feeds two or three) and individual (feeds one plus leftovers), have a thin, chewy crust with brown, bubbly cheese. The Palermo ($8.75 individual) has olives, sun-dried tomatoes, fine slices of sausage, and a pesto base. Different styles of pizza inspire blood feuds among friends; suffice it to say that if you like brown ‘n’ bubbly Greek pizza, you’ll be back for more.
Salads all have wonderfully crisp lettuce and an abundance of slightly stodgy accoutrements—cheese, peeled cucumber slices, tomato chunks, croutons. The Greek salad dressing is herby but bland, with tons of tasty feta boosting the flavor. The hand-cut fries are cousins of the illustrious Dick’s—greasily, crisply great. Alas, what could have been a lovely slice of apple pie ($2.75) was microwaved, the one unforgivable sin that can be committed to pie. Giant chunks of apples and a light cinnamon sauce couldn’t make up for the soggy, collapsed layers of nuked crust.
One more sip of tea and you’ll be ready to face the rest of the evening. Haul your kid out from under the table, grab the boxes of leftovers, and promise yourself to return for breakfast. Those banana pancakes sound mighty good.