Sexy Feast: Queen Margherita Makes a Delightful Date

queen_date_640_3335_cornerQueen Margherita in Magnolia is the kind of neighborhood place where everybody knows your name.

It’s also a restaurant where workers take pride in their pizza-making. The Caputo flour, silk to the touch, is imported from Italy. Pies are carefully handcrafted, dispatched to the wood-burning oven, and then pulled after quick-cooking.

There are many varieties on the menu. Recently, I sampled the Queen Margherita, simple yet elegant with its buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. The Puttanesca pleased me with its briny and spicy flavors from capers, olives, and chili flakes. There’s even a dessert Pizza di Nutella with a little salt spiking the chocolate hazelnut spread. Most intriguing, though, was the Dattero, delicious with its dates, gorgonzola, prosciutto crudo, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

So what does Queen Margherita’s dattero pizza teach us about sex?

It’s all about finding the delight of dates.

Maybe you’ve had your share of bacon-wrapped dates, but never dates on a pizza. Traditionalists and others may dread the thought, but if you have an open mind, you just might enjoy the dates’ contribution to the overall sweetness, saltiness, and richness of each slice you try.

Sexually speaking, many singles look at dates with dread. Questions like “What will we do?” and “What will we say?” and “How will the date end?” naturally run through the mind when dating. I suggest having an open mind and simply look forward to the potential fun of dating. Three simple steps:

1. Enjoy the time.

On dates, do what you love, and avoid what you don’t love. Of course, be open to new adventures (maybe a chance to check something off your bucket list?), but if you absolutely detest salsa dancing or sailboarding, why do it on a date? Your companion will surely detect your negative energy. But if you both love wine-tasting or walking, go, and you’ll be in your element. Even if you don’t find your love interest, hopefully you’ll still have fun.

2. Enjoy the person.

Don’t be judgmental; don’t judge a book by its cover. Sure, first impressions count, but go deeper by asking good questions and getting to know your date’s personality and passions. You might find friendship…or even more.

3. Enjoy the process.

It’s just a date. Loosen up and laugh. If you’re preoccupied about how the date will end and whether there will be another date, you’re living in the future instead of enjoying the present. Dating’s like sex: Sometimes we’re too goal-oriented. Men, especially, are often easily aroused and socialized to run the bases, seeing how far we can get. Once we get to home plate, we forget the ecstasy of the steps along the way–for example, of being “stranded” at first base with endless sessions of kissing, wondering when we’ll get to second, but enjoying every minute of it.

Keep expectations in check. You never know when they’ll be surpassed!

Queen Margherita exceeded my expectations, and might just be a good place to have a first date. It’s a friendly restaurant, and pizza’s pretty cheap as a first “investment.” Sit at the counter and watch the magic of pizza-making. Banter with the pizza chef (see how your date interacts with others, and not just you), who might even give you a feel of the flour, sensual for playing. See how well you negotiate your pizza order, including preference for toppings (and the connection to sex play). And, hey, it’s Italian food–coupled with a nice red wine, you’ve got the ingredients for a romantic date.

First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on January 5, 2012.

And here’s more, published at TheSunbreak.com as my first of a month-long Pizza Parlor Friday Holler:

National Pizza Month may officially be in October, but with professional football playoffs about to begin, I’m moving it to January. [ETA: Actually, I just learned that the second full week of January is National Pizza Week. How convenient!]

I’ve tackled Queen Anne area burgers before, and now it’s time to search for some pizza within easy reach of the hill. I’ll feature one place each Friday of the month, looking for a little variety.

Eating excursions rarely take me west of Queen Anne, but when I heard good things about Queen Margherita in Magnolia, I had to give it a try. Margherita of Savoy served as Italy’s queen from 1878 to 1900, and legend has it that the Margherita pizza–made with red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese (in honor of the Italian flag)–was named after her in 1889. Since fall 2010, she’s had this hidden gem named after her as well.

Queen Margherita is the type of neighborhood restaurant where it seems everybody knows your name. Visit more than once, and I’m sure owner Corino Bonjrada will take notice of you. When he’s not working the dining area and helping with service, he’s watching with pride as Devin Dukes prepares pizzas. These Neapolitan-style pies are made with Caputo Tipo 00 flour (silky smooth) from Italy, with the dough aged several days to ferment and develop the gluten. The pies go into a wood-fired oven (made in Naples) that reaches temperatures up to 1200 degrees, spending just 45 to 80 seconds to cook.

The pizzas are delicious. Neapolitan style means they are a slightly soft in the middle, with crisp crusts that have nice air bubbles. There are many pizza options on the menu, from the namesake Queen Margherita (great with Buffalo mozzarella) to the Puttanesca (briny and spicy) to the intriguing Dattero (with dates, gorgonzola, prosciutto crudo, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction). As Bonjrada told me, pizza is “the most amazing and yet simple thing.”

Here’s a photo gallery of shots of the pizza–including a special dessert pizza–along with some side dishes and a glimpse of the pizza-making:

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Insalata mixta: mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, toasted pecans, and crumbled gorgonzola drizzled with a delicate balsamic reduction vinaigrette

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Olive Miste: an assortment of olives (with a little chili in the oil) served with homemade bread

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Queen Margherita pizza: with Buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil (here with a little prosciutto on part of the pie!)

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Dattero pizza: with dates, gorgonzola, prosciutto crudo, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction

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Puttanesca pizza: with San Marzano tomato sauce, anchovies, Gaeta olives, capers, garlic, chili flakes,and shaved grana padano cheese

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A look at a Puttanesca pizza slice

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Chef Devin Dukes is rolling in the dough

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Pizza-spinning (just for show, as it’s not the recommended way to handle the dough)

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Tending to the pizza oven

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Pizza di Nutella: pizza crust slathered with a chocolate-hazelnut spread (Queen Margherita also serves D’Ambrosio gelato, including the delicious pistachio flavor!)

Queen Margherita on Urbanspoon

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