Let’s cut through the confusion: Ethan and Angela Stowell’s fast-casual pizza chainlet has three locations. One in its eponymous neighborhood of course. The other, Frelard Pizza Company on Leary Way, has a slightly different name (and a rocking patio and perhaps the best kid pit in town). Then the newest addition of the pizza trio is called Ballard Pizza Company despite being located in South Lake Union. All three serve thin-crust pizza by the slice and in pies laden with Italian-leaning toppings like prosciutto and arugula, or spicy coppa, Italian sausage, red peppers, and onions. Throw in a few salads, local drafts, and wine on tap and you’ve got a go-to spot for casual meetups, happy hour, or family outings.
One can pretty affordably assemble a giddy repast from some 10 varieties of salumi, several vegetable nibbles, a half dozen bruschetta, and a dozen or so pizzas at empire builder Ethan Stowell’s sleek nosh bar. Toppings are beautiful on the pizzas—particularly housemade guanciale, mozzarella, and a sweet dusting of fennel pollen—but the crackly-pillowy-blistery crusts skew oily. Then there’s some salumi with torta fritta (the hot, savory beignets Northern Italians melt their salumi around) along with a perky toss of, say, marinated beets with pistachios and golden raisins, and a nice, stiff (exquisite) cocktail. (Despite the Stowells putting this Capitol Hill place up for sale, it’s still going strong for the time being.)
Lucky Beacon Hill, that its pizzeria so embodies the soul of the neighborhood restaurant. The place bubbles, from the sheer crush of devotees inside its tidy, clean-lined quarters to its wood-fired pizza crusts—crispy and flavorful like Neapolitan with a little more tooth to the chew. These pies are the province of master pizzaiolo Jerry Corso, who delivers a short list of Italian regional antipasti, seasonal salads, and terrific Italian desserts—along with cocktails, wines, and beers—to round out the main event. If it’s on offer, don’t miss the sassy anchovy-lit puttanesca, or whatever garden special he’s got going.
The New York–style pizzeria slings slices and 18-inch pies seven days a week. And, hello munchies, it’s open until 2am Sunday through Wednesday, and until 4am the rest of the nights. Other perks: A full bar and a takeaway window. Other other perks: three locations of carbo-loading for the post-drinking masses.
This exemplary streetside Italian cafe on Montlake Boulevard is run with a perfectionist’s standard, from handcrafted pasta to fabled gnocchi, featherweight lasagna, and crackle-crusted wood-fired pizzas. The result is a destination restaurant masquerading as a neighborhood joint, with a neighborhood joint’s clattering aesthetic. (And lack of parking.) So take the bus already; just get there for a plate of the best butternut squash and sage ravioli you’ll ever taste. Cocktails, too.
This may be the only pizza place in town that offers metal chopsticks alongside forks: The starter menu is full of dumplings, but most of what emerges from the ultralegit Valoriani pizza oven is reasonably familiar—then there’s the Uncle Sau, that replaces sausage or pepperoni with pork darkly caramelized in fish sauce, the usual peppers with bright jalapeño.
This Phinney Ridge spot, care of brothers Andrew and Giancarlo Martino, doles out legit pizze napoletane. Fresh out the wood-fired brick oven comes rounds of thin pies with the exact right amount of char and toppings like salame piccante, prosciutto di Parma, and smoked mozzarella. The Vongole pizza bears local oven-roasted clams, a wealth of garlic, and a healthy glug of olive oil. And don’t sleep on the Mezza Luna Nutella, a half moon of sweet pastry dough brimming with hazelnut spread that takes a spin in the oven before landing table side—insides all melty, outer crust nice and crisp.
If you’d wait an hour for beautifully simple combos of carefully sourced toppings on char-bubbled New York–style crusts—the modest Ballard haunt Delancey is your jam. (It’s everyone’s jam.) Savor a brilliant chemistry project of a cocktail and a vegetable plate at the sister bar next door, Essex, then return for a pillowy-crackly crusted pie with untempered tomato brightness and pairings of Zoe’s bacon, cremini mushrooms, basil, what have you. Gray salt, bittersweet chocolate chip cookies sustain a fan base.
The latest project of Delancey co-owner and pizzaiolo Brandon Pettit—a pizza scholar who knows from wet dough and dry ovens—Dino’s is an intentionally crafted dive at the Capitol Hill epicenter of Denny and Olive, whose deep booths and long bar pay homage to the pizza taverns of Pettit’s native Jersey. Also its pizza: Sicilian thick-crusted squares with bright sauce, first-rate toppings (Zoe’s bacon, aged mozzarella, extraordinary Grana Padano), and a high quotient of char. Done well, char will caramelize the sugars in the crust and lend a transporting complexity; too well done, it will blacken the crust to ash. Both have been known to transpire here at Dino’s—but they’re ready with a do-over if warranted. Thin crust pizzas, salads, and cocktails too.
Pizza’s the chow of now, thanks in part to Flying Squirrel Pizza Co. in Seward Park. It offers a few tables in shiny, crisply appointed new spaces and one-size pies for around $19 each, along with salads and apps and ice creams. But Flying Squirrel is all about artisan toppings—cured meats from Salumi, chicken from Roy’s BBQ, Maytag blue cheese, and locally grown produce—on chewy, sinking crusts bound up with tangy tomato sauce.
Not even the Space Needle delivers a stiffer shot of Seattle than an organic pizza joint, hand built of recycled materials by its LEED-certified architect owner—he even made the stools. Humble Pie smokes its own GMO-free pulled pork, imports just five ingredients from out of state, processes its own rainwater, and maintains a chicken coop. Snicker at your own peril, for these are killer, wood-fired pizza crusts, thin but with plenty of spring in the chew, topped with combos like organic Fuji apples, Beecher’s Flagship cheese, and bacon or smoked eggplant with cherry tomatoes and red onions. Mostly outdoor seating makes this a mostly-in-summer place, but bevs (boutique brews, rotating ciders) and the neighborhood vibe are irresistible even if you have to cram into the tiny building.
The Independent Pizzeria, owned by one Tom Siegel, has taken over the lake-facing space that once held Impromptu Wine Bar Cafe. Expect a steely, handsomely minimalist decor, four beers on tap, and wood-fired pizzas available for dining in or carrying out.
If the family owners at this First Hill pie shop don’t know your name on your first visit, they will by your third. And there will be a third, for their Jersey-style pies feature golden, perfect crusts crackling with heft and bursting with flavor. Of course such hifalutin descriptors are all wrong for pizza this down to earth; order a white pie (built on ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella) or bright tomato pie, with choices of toppings, to the strains of good old ’70s rock. Checkered tablecloths, family photos, and cheap price tags dial up the sense of community. Hint: The large pie means it.
No-nonsense thin crust pizzas from the wood oven, a small list of thoughtful sides (could be a beautiful seasonal salad, could be hearty pozole) and a top-notch draft list that leans more European than hophead. Lower Queen Anne needs more casually grownup hands like the Masonry, but for now that blessing goes to Fremont, where the Masonry opened a second spot housing a few more taps of craft beers and just as much satisfying pizzas.
The Mount Baker neighborhood has embraced the intimate light-drenched space with the wood-fired pizza oven, and why shouldn’t it? It’s just the kind of come-as-you-are-for-just-what-you-feel-like joint that raises community fellowship—and appetites. Mornings there’s egg dishes, buttery pastries, and plenty of Caffé Vita espresso, followed by counter-service pizzas, sandwiches, and salads all day. At dinner there’s table service for the same menu of simple Italian eats. Blue-ribbon toppings generally best crusts in the execution department, but that stops none of the families who cram the joint from toting their doggie bags across the street to Mount Baker Park.
Hitchcock’s weekly pizza popup has morphed into its own restaurant on Bainbridge’s Winslow Way. Flour, cheese, tomatoes, and technique hew to Naples tradition, but toppings take some cues from Hitchcock Deli’s hearty sandwiches—bursting with whatever’s in season, and often finished with paper-thin ribbons of cured, fatty flesh of owner Brendan McGill’s own Mangalitsa hogs.
Jacques Nawar captains the glorious pizza napoletana situation in the Junction, where loyal diners come for his pies made with homemade mozzarella, imported Italian flour, and legit San Marzano tomatoes (it matters). As for what’s sourced closer to home: pizzas are fired in an oven that burns applewood from Yakima.
Verifiable Neapolitan pizza with the credentials to prove it, this West Seattle pizzeria on Admiral is ultralegit. See, owner Cary Kemp learned the ways of pizza napoletana on Via Tribunali in Naples before launching the local chainlet of Via Tribunalis in Seattle circa 2004. Then the pizzaiolo opened this Admiral District in 2011 and has been sating the neighborhood with hot pies topped with the likes of buffalo milk mozzarella, sweet Italian sausage, and, for a couple of bucks, you can put an egg on it. Something wholly American though: wood-fired s’mores with melted chocolate and marshmallows bubbly and golden brown from the oven’s flames.
Capitol Hill’s mellow new house of Neapolitan-style pizzas is the latest from the family behind Mondello (and original owners of Queen Margherita and La Vita è Bella) and the latest in a string of Italian restaurants to call this Broadway address home: Now it’s full of actual Italians. Your best bet is a seat at the marble-topped bar and a pizza roughly the size of a dinner plate, with a pillowy crust and a paper-thin center barely supporting ample combos like broccolini, slivers of sweet onion, and crumbles of fenneled sausage or lamb with mushrooms, arugula, and goat cheese.
We’re pretty sure the soul of gritty, folksy White Center emanates directly from the busy ovens of Proletariat Pizza, where the young Albaeck family labor to feed the masses simply spectacular pizza. Self-taught, they figured out the basics of thin crusts–puffed and golden and bursting with flavor–and pristine ingredients, from the organic over-easy eggs and prosciutto and meadow of fresh arugula on the ham and egg pie to the anchovies and ricotta and milky mozzarella on the anchovy. “Nothing that we use contains…anything we don’t feel good about putting in our bodies,” the menu reads. “Except Spam.” Taken together with the U.S. Army Medical Department dishes, the utterly sterile interior decor, the toe-curling homemade tiramisu for dessert, and the rainbow coalition of families eating it all up–in the community–well…soul of White Center indeed.
Tom Douglas’s trio of pizza places hold shared plank tables, with enormous granite ovens for the serious business at hand: rustic applewood-smoky pizza crusts with blistery crackle and satisfying chew topped with seasonal harvests, like Yukon Gold potatoes with rosemary or Penn Cove clams with pancetta and lemon thyme. Short lists of vegetal starters and memorable finales round out the brief menu. (Serious Biscuit, downstairs from the Westlake branch, brings the same attention to swoonworthy biscuit sandwiches.)
In some ways, Sizzle Pie’s decision to open an outpost in the last gritty vestiges of Capitol Hill is almost comically obvious. The Portland pizza outfit’s locations on either side of the Willamette River fuse punk and metalhead sensibilities with a deep respect for dietary restrictions (pies have names like Universal Order of Parmageddon and Vegan Angel of Doom). Cofounder Mikey McKennedy grew up in Olympia and since high school frequented nearby venues like Neumos and the Comet. His business partner Matt Jacobson owns a heavy metal record label. Their joints are fueled by cocktails, local beer, and loud music; like much of Capitol Hill, they keep going until 3 or 4am.
Lark’s original home on 12th Ave is now a casual pizza tavern, serving John Sundstrom’s interpretation of pizza: Sturdy wood-fired crusts somehow both chewy and crunchy, topped with cool seasonal combos like chickpea pesto and feta, or padrone peppers, chorizo, and cotija. Pies skew vegetarian, but meat lovers get to choose from the add-on menu, which goes way beyond the traditional salami and sausage with toppings like crispy chicken skins, oxtail, and spicy nduja. There’s a kid’s menu and some pies come by the slice.
Mark Fuller, the busy chef that he is, has bequeathed West Seattle with his latest: a pizza joint-slash-bar. Along the California Ave stretch slushy machines dispense the likes of a rum and root beer slush or a jungle bird, again, in slush form. Negroni on tap? They have that too. Come for the bar vibes, stay for the pizza. Fuller’s tapped the knowledge of John Montenegro, a sous chef from Dino’s Tomato Pie, who clearly knows his way around some pizza dough and sauce. Pies are made New York–style: big, round and hand tossed. Naturally, there’s a supreme that comes with the familiar combo of toppings. Then there’s The Reaper, which appears to be almost a dare: spicy coppa, ricotta, ghost chili, carolina reaper chili, plus the same fiery spice blend he uses for Ma’ono hot chicken sandwiches. If you don’t feel like mopping up your spice-induced tears, there’s plenty else like some classics such as cheese and double pepperoni, both of which you can grab by the slice, too.
Time was, 20-plus years ago, you had to trek to Filiberto’s in outer Burien to find pizza made the way it was meant to be made: thin crusted and barely scorched in a wood-fired brick oven built by Neapolitan masons. Now, many burn wood, but none to better effect than the cozy Tutta Bella, a cornerstone of Columbia City’s renaissance. The toppings show zealous attention to proportion, quality, and authenticity, from real San Marzano tomatoes in the sauce to a seasonal wild-mushroom special heavy with funghi. Salads and desserts are the only extras; the shaved fennel in the insalata di Salerno is an especially nice home-country touch. Newer outposts in Wallingford, South Lake Union, and Issaquah spread the love—if not the warm, old-brick atmosphere.
Seattle’s always been hungry for a good pizza, but Neapolitan-style pies in particular are the chow of right now. Out of this sparkling space at the eastern portal to Ballard come consistently excellent wafer-thin crusts, blistered and crackling from the maw of the enormous pizza oven (which they also haul to farmers markets and private parties). Toppings run to simple lovelies like bell peppers with CasCioppo Brothers sausage, or sun-drieds with artichoke hearts and kalamata olives; our favorite is the amante di carne, with pepperoni, sausage, black olives, red onions, and shaved Parm. There’s beer and wine and antipasti and housemade gelato, too.
The folks we have to thank for Caffé Vita have given Seattle Neapolitan pizzerias with atmosphere so thickly Italian you could cut it with a pizza wheel. They’re storefront slots making little visible to-do from the street and going enchantingly dusky in the evening. As for what they serve, it’s the real Neapolitan deal: springy, salt-licked, heat-blistered crusts sparsely topped with sprightly tomato sauce, along with every imaginable combination of mushrooms, bufala mozzarella, fresh garlic, cured meats, fresh sausage, and so on. The pies are slid into the roaring brick oven for, oh, 20 seconds or so, whereupon all they’ll need for company is an olive- and prosciutto-packed house salad, a good bottle of sangiovese, and an appreciative maw. Don’t bother with a doggie bag: The Trib’s pies, ephemeral joys, go soggy upon cooling.
It’s the halo of crisp cheese that makes this Chicago-style pizza worth the advance online order (no longer necessary at the new Interbay quarters, but still highly advisable). Deep dish is often a gut bomb, but owner Dave Lichterman layers flavors with thought—a lighter, briochelike crust, just enough cheese to mean business, a surface of tangy tomato sauce. Request mushrooms and olives on a meaty pie, and he’ll politely suggest these add-ons will mess with his moisture and salt ratios, not to mention the very specific conditions necessary to turn slices of mozzarella layered around the sides of the pan into a fortifying wall of mahogany burnt cheese. Take heed: Windy City Pie’s dine-in hours are 21-plus only and slightly more limited than its takeout schedule.
Entirely vegetarian—and entirely lovely—this pizzeria in the Chinatown–International District slings hot pies whole or by the slice, like one with thin rounds of potato and aromatic rosemary or the Dragon topped with fresh basil and sweet roasted red peppers. And if meat cravings must be satiated, the Field Roast pepperoni is a solid, savory approximation. To drink: Wash everything down with a Manny’s or another one of the handful beers on tap. To sit: At the counter, watching passersby walk down King Street.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated on February 8 at 1:30pm to reflect that Brandon Thompson (pictured above) is no longer a pizzaiolo at Bruciato.