The Real Deal: Da Pino's
American Cheese: The New-Old World

Mozz for Miles: "Seattle's Best" Pizza Party

Catherines_blog_555 Five years ago, I received an unrestricted grant for my writing & so fled the country in pursuit of poetry above the Mediterranean--I found myself on an Italian wanderlust that followed trails far above shoreline through the lemon groves of Cinque Terra, barely hovering above cliffs, fishing towns swaddled by billowing white curtains of mist that ended in a stiff glass of limoncello every evening & a seabreeze coming through the window each morning.

Between the route of these five ancient villages, I stumbled upon a bakery set just steps above the beach, each boat below brilliantly painted as if the wing of a Mediterranean bird. Sailors walked in & out this small storefront, paying a few liras to eat a pillow of freshly-baked dough that laid in squares underneath the glass counter, each elemental but dramatic in flavor: sea-salted anchovies, sun-dried olives, wild basil, spicy lobes of garlic, the sweetest tomato essence, pungent local cheese...

When you grow up in New York or go to Italy, pizza is a staple rather than a once-a-week Halleluiah that grows on trees. Sure there's bad pizza to be found, but you have to work to find it. But here in the NW, we come from all corners of the world & so it's not uncommon to find a myriad of opinions. Long before I decided to blog, I constantly googled to see people's thoughts on where to get good pizza of the east-coast sort here in the Wild West.

Like anyplace else, people have their bias. Catherines_blog_557 Me, I grew up ordering an "eight cut" from Homestyle Pizza in Schenectady where the sauce was salty enough you never craved an anchovy. Cheese was plentiful, but never the pond of mozz that my Chicago cousins devoured by the handful as it rolled off their pie in transport from the pizzeria. Deep dish is a hugely different hinterland from the foldable stuff that I was accustomed to, or more commonly, a thick Neopolitan crust with the option of "cold cheese"--extra mozza grated onto the pizza after it was served on your paper plate. I've yet to see that option here, as well as oil-marinated sweet & hot peppers. Are we more health conscious on the alternate coast?

So get to the point, you may say... I was inspired by something I saw a year ago on tasting menu's blog where they took a limo around sampling NY's best, & the next year having a few choice Seattle pizza's taxied in... A brilliant idea I thought! Living in a small house, I had no idea how popular this theme would be in Seattle, & before we knew it, our kitchen was stacked with cardboard boxes of wondrous pies, some bigger than our warming oven, which meant devour & conquer...

Catherines_blog_579_1#1 without dispute was Zagi's Pepperoni & Black Olive. I have no picture or proof, despite that it arrived in the size of a big-screen tv & disappeared faster than a speeding bullet. Our discerning party-goers praised its foldability & balance of cheese to meat without the heartburn of Pagliachi's...  Our housemate, David (recipient of many leftovers), voted Spiro's of West Seattle as his house favorite, as their pie features a different pizza-parlor meat underneath alternating layers of cheese & marinated vegetables. 

Other top contendah's were Stellar's Corson Classic with Sliced Yukon spuds, gorgonzola cheese & sweet white onions & Atlantic Street Pizza with a crust that nearly took up a third of each slice. This reminded me of pies eaten at The Sink in Boulder, CO, offered with a dipping sauce (often honey) since the crust was such a major component. This seems to me to be the major western trait amongst all pies--big crust, big flavors--pesto, extra garlic, roasted garlic...

Best of all, some folks forged their own way with a clam pizza (I always visit Golden Boys in North Beach for their super-garlicky version) & a spud & carmelized onion creation with double-rising & flakey crust. Kudos to the home chefs!

But my heart lies with Piecora's which K. himself ordered plain-jane. I can't say it tops my hometown favorite--the crust is a little too wet & the sauce lacks that Sicilian tomato sunniness, sea salt & feisty attitude I so love--but it's solid. I guess I married the right guy. I wish I could have transported the Rugolo from La Vita e Bella in Belltown which is my personal fave, but driving across town doesn't do justice to this pie. You have to experience it in person, & I hope you do if you follow in the footsteps of my interlude. Those folks are from the old country...

Thanks to all, we had more than enough to eat & many-a-wine-professional bouncing a super-ball off of all our wine glasses. With our left over pizza boxes, now we'll *really* have the neighbors wondering...Catherines_blog_603_2    


Ms. G

Once more you triumph with word pictures and sensuous flavors calling us to gravitate toward Pizza in Oakland... but probably not today... instead we'll amble the Piedmont and search for appropriate postcards to send you from this enthusiasm of folk food and folly. All our love, Ms. G


Sounds like a lot of fun! Personally I am huge fan of the cracker-thin crust they have an amazing pizza place here in Corrientes called Santino, (with the above crust ofcource) it has fresh, creamy cheese, thin sliced ham, tiny fleck of hard boiled eggs, fresh bazil and sliced tomatoes, it tastes like you are eating something straight from the jarden. MMM.

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