Pizza City Guides: Tom Douglas's Seattle
Editor's note: For our new series of Pizza City Guides, we're asking our favorite chefs from around the country to tell us about their favorite pies and slices in their home city. Got requests? Let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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To say that we trust Tom Douglas when it comes to Seattle's restaurant scene would be an understatement. We've asked him to recommend everything from his favorite eateries to Seattle's best burgers. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the chef just happened to be crowned the nation's Best Restaurateur at last year's James Beard awards. With 12 restaurants under his belt, including two pretty serious pie shops—not to mention a catering business, a line of specialty foods, and a professional bakery—we figured it was high time to get his take on Seattle's expanding pizza scene.
Before we talked favorites, we asked Tom to tell us a little more about what he looks for in a great pie. Here's what he had to say:
For me, pizza is first and foremost about the crust. I like a crust with a great texture that's charred and blistered in a hot oven, especially a wood burning oven. I'm not a fan of super thin Neapolitan crusts, which can get soggy. I do enjoy the classic New York style of pizza—a thin crust with classic toppings, sold by the slice.
I also like New England clam pizzas, like the ones from New Haven. That's what inspired the clam pancetta pizza we serve at Serious Pie. I also like a simple tomato and mozzarella pizza, but not one that's overloaded with sauce and cheese. I can't stand a soggy pizza. I always want to be able to taste and appreciate the crust.
Pizza is a simple thing—every detail has to be perfect. Ideally, everything on your pizza should be top notch: artisan cheeses, well-made tomato sauce, excellent cured meats. Generally I like pizza toppings to stay in the tradition of the Italian classics, and I'm not fond of putting delicata squash, sliced pears, and other oddball things on top of pizza, as my young chefs occasionally want to do.
So, without further ado, here's a look at his go-to spots in Seattle:
This local chain, best known for delivery, makes dependable, reliable, tasty pizza. When Jackie and I order, we request our pizza light on the cheese and sauce, then Jackie turns our oven onto high with a pizza stone inside. When the pizza is delivered, we pop it in the oven to get it well-cooked and crusty, the way we like it.
Multiple locations, listed at Pagliacci.com
In 2004, when Michael McConnell of Caffe Vita opened the first Via Tribunali in Capitol Hill, complete with a huge and glorious wood-burning Vesuvius brick oven, hip Seattle pizza was born. Delicate crust with high quality toppings, this is my favorite of Seattle's Neapolitan style. ry the pizza with buffalo mozzarella.
Multiple locations, listed at ViaTribunali.com
Seattle was not always a great pizza town, but we've been lucky to have Café Lago. This Italian restaurant in the Montlake neighborhood, which also features handmade pasta including an exceptional lasagna, has been turning out apple wood fired pizzas with thin crusts and a good tomato sauce for the last 20 years. I like the simplest pizza here, the Margherita.
2305 24th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112; 206-329-8005; Cafelago.com
When Brandon Pettit and his wife, the ace blogster (Orangette) and author Molly Wizenberg, first opened this Brooklyn-inspired pizzeria on a quiet, mostly residential block in Ballard, the roar of acclaim was deafening. Now that the huzzahs have settled down, you can appreciate Delancey for what it is: just plain delicious. Try the fennel salami pizza.
1415 NW 70th St, Seattle, WA 98117; 206-838-1960; DelanceySeattle.com
My own, with a unique approach. Our bread bakers make artisan rustic breads with a long fermentation time, and that's what inspired Serious Pie's slow rise pizza crust. It's light in texture, but firm with some crunch, baked until burnished and browned. We use just the right amount of toppings, featuring quality ingredients like imported Italian cheeses, farm-produce, foraged mushrooms, local clams, housemade charcuterie, etc. When I order a pie, it's the potato rosemary with an add of guanciale—delish.
Multiple locations, listed at TomDouglas.com
When the mood for a New York style slice strikes, this Capitol Hill all-day-into-night pizza joint is a fun stop. Their pesto pizza is a favorite, as is a nice greasy slice of pepperoni.
700 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122; 206-322-6444; HotMammasPizza.com
Flying Squirrel Pizza Company
These solid neighborhood pizzerias, in Seward Park and Ballard, add depth to Seattle's pizza scene. Keep an eye out for the specials, like the Corleone with rapini and fennel sausage. With a soundtrack exclusively from cassette tapes, they keep the flavor and the food rockin'!
Multiple locations, listed at FlyingSquirrelPizza.com
When you're looking for American style pizza, enormous salads, and pitchers of beer from a good beer list, this spot in the Georgetown neighborhood is old fashioned and fun.
5513 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA 98108; 206-763-1660; StellarPizza.com