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Bottoms Up Pizza

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must be doing something right because it's almost certainly Richmond's favorite pizzeria. Their signature pie has some of the most breadlike crust I've ever had on pizza. It's thick — more than an inch in some places — and airy, probably as a result of a lengthy final rise after shaping. Bottoms Up simply requires this extra structural support to engineer its signature pies, which are a kind of exercise in excess — thick crusts, piled-on toppings and huge slices (a relative bargain at $5.25).

Bottoms Up also offers a few soups and salads — and for those rare souls who actually shun pizza, some sandwiches. We tried the Med Salad ($5.95), which was large and came with Calamata olives, slow-roasted tomatoes, tangy goat cheese, pepperoncini, croutons and "mixed" greens.

I've always been wary of seafood on cheese pizza, and a slice of the "Chesapeake" with its fresh crabmeat and Old Bay Seasoning did little to temper my suspicions. The Karen Combo was much better. Fresh spinach and creamy ricotta dotted with Italian sausage made for a very appealing slice of pizza. But the big surprise for me came in the form of a barbecued chicken pizza which was surprisingly good.

If these heavy, thick-crusted signature pizzas seem a bit overwhelming, try the "Napolitan"-style personal pizza which boasts a "thin" crust — at least by Bottoms Up's standards. We sampled the "Goat in the Garden" ($7.75) — topped with fresh spinach, Roma tomatoes, goat cheese and roasted garlic. I'll probably come back for one of these some day.

The signature pies at Bottoms Up may fall short of my particular pizza expectations, but they are excellent thick slabs of fresh-baked dough with tasty stuff on

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