316 Virginia Street, Seattle WA 98101 (map); 206-838-7388; website
Pizza Style: Artisanal
Oven Type: Wood-fired
The Skinny: The crust is soft and incredibly airy but takes most of its crispness from a dusting of
cornmealsemolina. The Margherita is good, but the real thing to get here is the sausage-and-cherry-bomb-pepper pie. It's amazing.
Price: $14 to $16. Happy hour half-pies are $5 M–F, 3–5 p.m.
After 48 hours of reminiscing, hanging out with old friends, and eating a boatload of pizza in Portland, my next stop was Seattle, aka Jet City, aka the Emerald City, aka the place that, as I saw it, would begin to kick my pizza-eating ass on what I had taken to calling "Pizza Madness 2009."
I viewed Portland as the calm before the storm. The place to ease into what would soon become a whirlwind of pizza-sampling on the West Coast. The City of Roses is pretty damn easy to get around via public transit. Plus, I had friends there who I'd assumed I could hitch rides with as long as I Tom Sawyered them into the pizza madness themselves. So I had a fairly relaxing visit and did some memory-lane sightseeing in the morning hours before my destination pizzerias opened for the day.
But I only had one day in Seattle.
One day for four pizzerias, some of them seemingly far-flung, and I was using a public-transportation system I was unfamiliar with. Luckily, the first lunchtime option, Serious Pie, was half a block from my hotel.
I arrived shortly after the place opened and was surprised to find a fairly quiet restaurant, especially given what Daniel Zemans said about the place--that it was packed with a 20-person wait at 4:30 p.m. when he visited.
Still, the communal tables started to fill up shortly after I was seated (lucky enough, at my own two-top table right next to a window providing beautiful shooting light).
I ordered what would become my MO for the trip, a Margherita pie and then some sort of house specialty or sausage pie. Here, the house specialty and sausage pie seemed to be one and the same: Cherry Bomb Peppers and Sweet Fennel Sausage.
The pizzas at Serious Pie are ovals about 12 inches long and seven inches at their widest. They've got an insanely puffy end crust, charred in places and dotted with pizza bubbles and pizza-bubble blowouts. The dough is extremely soft, which means that where the crust is topped, the additional ingredients seem to weigh it down enough that there's not much rise in the center. But that same soft elasticity gives those outer edges an airiness the likes of which I would not see again on this journey until Pizzeria Mozza in L.A. Here's the hole-structure shot:
Pies here are baked in a wood-burning oven with a massive post-and-lintel rock façade that looks like something out of Fraggle Rock:
It's an oven to make Gimli feel right at home. And here is the type of upskirt it helps produce:
As for flavor in the Margherita, there's not a whole lot. It's very subtle, especially with the use of buffalo mozzarella. Most of the flavor in this round seemed to come from the
cornmealsemolina dusting on the crust and from the sauce, which was well-seasoned when I had it (though it left my friend Adam Lindsley unenthused when he visited almost a week later). The addition of olive oil also enhanced the overall taste of the pie.
I know I said that Marherita pizzas are boring, and this one hasn't really haunted my dreams the way its sister pizza (below) still does, but it did have a bit more savoriness and bready flavor than many of the more traditional Neapolitan Margherita pies I sampled on this journey.
My server told me that his favorite was the Margherita but that the most popular pizza was the Cherry Bomb and Sweet Fennel Sausage pie. As the joint filled up, I heard diner after diner order it. And it really is the thing to get here. The hot peppers and house-made sausage are a perfect combination, all distributed in a perfect Goldilocks ratio — not too much, not too little. The same could be said of the balance overall.
I carried the leftovers around with me for a while, sneaking another piece of the pepper-sausage pizza long after it had grown cold. And the crust held up remarkably well, probably due to the airiness and lift. It was still soft and pliant. I'm guessing this would make a great morning-after pizza.
Although I wouldn't know, since I ended up giving my leftovers to a street person, who then in turn offered to sell me crack for $2. And who then opened the box and yelled to me as I crossed the street, "WHAT'S THIS? I'M NOT GONNA EAT THIS. THIS IS GROSS!"
Just finished Tom Douglas's Serious Pie. Excellent. Gave leftovers to a crazy homeless man who tried to sell me crack for two bucks
Which prompted @cks56 to respond:
@Slice Thanks for giving your leftovers to the homeless guy but please don't use the word Crazy The guy may have a serious Mental Illness
But, heck, you'd have to be crazy not to love that Cherry Bomb pizza. So I think I'm in the clear here.