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Delancey: The Pinnacle of Seattle Pizza

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[Photographs: Adam Lindsley, "Delancey" photo above: Gastronomy]

Delancey

1415 NW 70th St., Seattle, WA 98117 (map); 206-838-1960; delanceyseattle.com
Pizza style: Neapolitan-inspired with New York influence
Oven type: Wood-fired
The skinny: The most masterful pizza in all of Seattle
Notes: Reservations for 6 or more only
Price: 12-inch pizzas $12 and up

In many cities, perhaps even most cities outside New York or Naples, you will come across a pizzeria that is clearly head-and-shoulders above the rest of the town's competition. This is very much true in Seattle, Washington, where owner/pizzaiolo Brandon Pettit's Delancey serves not only the best pizza in the city, but the best I've eaten in the entire state. By a mile.

Chronicling Delancey's inception, construction, and subsequent success is Molly Wizenberg, Pettit's wife and Orangette scribe. She helped design the charmingly low-key, cozy atmosphere of the restaurant, as well as many of the appetizers and desserts. No doubt she also was essential in establishing Delancey's popularity—this place is hopping from the moment the doors open and the obscenely long line of eager diners spills outside. But the pizzas speak for themselves.

20110128-135123-delancey-upskirt.jpgStart with Pettit's sterling Margherita. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for: a crackling, blistered crust; a vibrant, unfussy tomato sauce; fresh mozzarella that doesn't seem to gum up as it cools like most fresh mozz is wont to do; and an even application of basil.

The airiness of the crust varies a little (Seattle's mercurial weather can wreak havoc on rise times), but it's always well-salted, yeasty and complex from an overnight ferment, and nicely crisp on the underside, with plenty of char. It's also quite thin, but unlike a more traditional Neapolitan pie, it barely sags and won't lose structural integrity under the sauce and cheese. Pettit spent an untold amount of time perfecting this crust, and it's obvious from the first bite. Superb.

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The pork shoulder pepperoni from Zoe's Meats elevates the Delancey pepperoni pie to something extraordinary. Meaty and spicy—but not too spicy—it gets even better out toward the edges of the pizza, where the pepperoni crisps up like a potato chip. A meat potato chip. Topped with fresh and aged mozzarella and a very generous portion of grated Grana, this pizza certainly doesn't skimp you on the cheese. It comes through strong and salty, a direct influence of Pettit's favorite New York pies.

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True cheese fiends, though, should dive straight into the White Pie. The mozzarella (both fresh and aged) and Grana make a return appearance, along with ricotta, which is made in-house. The best bits can be found where the oven's heat browned and blistered the cheese, and wherever a sliver of garlic has fallen. I think most white pies are far too rich, often from the overuse of ricotta and some horrific white sauce, but Delancey's has the balance down cold.

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But my absolute favorite at Delancey is the housemade sausage pizza. There's some mild heat hiding inside those chunks of funky, fennel-studded ground pork, and it's addictive. And as if the sausage wasn't already impossible to resist, each piece is practically coated in grated Grana. Delancey could sell these sausages on their own at street fairs and make a killing.

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In my estimation, Brandon Pettit's dedication and craft ranks among that of the greatest pizzaioli in the country, and he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as titans like Chris Bianco, Dom DeMarco, and Brian Spangler. Seattle should count itself quite fortunate to have him.

About the author: Adam Lindsley is a Seattle-based novelist, musician, and the author of the pizza blog, This Is Pizza. As a contributor for both Slice and A Hamburger Today, he is contractually obligated to say he loves pizza and burgers in equal amounts. Which is to say he is a polygamist.

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