The screenshot I posted was my local -> vpn -> production sql so yeah sql overhead is definitely coming into play in the profiler. I should have mentioned that. I didn't want to install the profiler on our production machine.
But anyway, I was able to significantly speed up my Orchard deploy. This is what I removed:
* Advanced Menu (Szmyd.Orchard.Modules.Menu) -- I had 3 "menus" on the page
* Changed all lists to not filter or order on custom properties -- I had 4 "lists" on the page ordering and filtering this way
^ both of these seemed to be selecting/ordering/filtering off of non-indexed rows, and non-id rows. Specifically the advanced menu.
Also of note: my sql queries for a homepage load went from ~90 to ~75 when I removed the above items.
That's it. I'm now getting 300 to 400ms page response time (down from 600 to 1500ms). I wish it was more like 200ms, but I have a feeling once the team gets to Performance & Caching we'll see a dramatic improvement.