Daily Slice: Novelty Hill/Januik Winery, Woodinville, Washington
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
It's not often I'm given the opportunity to eat pizza at a winery. Perhaps this has less to do with typical tasting room fare, than the fact that I'm not a wine aficionado and don't often find myself in many tasting rooms. I will say that after trying a couple pies at Novelty Hill/Januik in Woodinville, Washington, I'm definitely inspired to peruse other wineries' menus for pizza.
As it was Mother's Day, the six pies on the current menu were mom-themed, and appropriately named. For example, the Octomom was topped with no less than boar bacon, mortadella, salami, asparagus, egg, prosciutto, ham, and scallions. The June Cleaver was a humorous nod to the 1950s, boasting creamed chicken and mushrooms.
I tried two pizzas, the first of which was the Clair Huxtable. I kind of skipped over the Cosby Show in my youth, so I have no idea if braised short ribs, ramps, and cherry tomatoes are indicative of Phylicia Rashad's character. Regardless, the toppings were well-chosen and complimentary.
Ramps seem to be getting all the attention these days, and rightly so; they brought a mild sweetness and oniony overtone to this pizza. Pairing superbly with the ramps, the braised short ribs were oh-so-tender and salty, practically melting in your mouth. The cherry tomatoes, bursting with sweet juice, added texture and, unlike their big brothers, actual flavor to the pie.
The Mother Earth, adorned with just zucchini, radicchio, and arugula, sounds light on flavor in comparison. It wasn't. The veggies stayed crisp despite their trip into the gas-assisted wood-fired oven, snapping pleasantly beneath the teeth. They retained their alternately sweet and bitter attributes well, brought out by the saltiness in the cheese.
Both pizzas featured a perhaps-too-sweet sauce and aged mozzarella, which were fine but not memorable. The same could be said of the soft-in-the-center-crackery-around-the-outside crust, which lacked structural strength or any particularly flavorful characteristics, though it did get some nice char on the undercarriage. It really was just a toppings-delivery device, albeit a serviceable one.
The toppings get all the attention here at the Novelty Hill/Januik Winery, but they're good enough to warrant stopping by for a hot pie if you're in town for a tasting. The winery grounds are also nice for a quiet stroll past their herb garden and for a view of the barreling operation. Do note that the pizzas are only served on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4:30pm.