Serious Eats: Ballard Pizza Company

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Chef Ethan Stowell has enjoyed great success with more upscale restaurants (How to Cook a Wolf, Tavolata, Anchovies & Olives, Staple & Fancy) in Seattle. So why has he just opened a pizza place, and why is he spending some of his precious weekend time tangled in pizza dough?

Ballard Pizza Company is the first place I’ve opened with a ‘What do we really want to do for the community?’ attitude,” he explains, adding, “I wanted a place where people in the Ballard neighborhood could enjoy good pizza made with good ingredients at a good price.”

Actually, Ballard Pizza Company is the first of Stowell’s planned Grubb Brothers restaurants, which he describes as “fast food redefined.” In the works are fried chicken, fish and chips, and burger joints. For now, though, Stowell says Ballard Pizza Company has been a challenging but fun foray. It’s approachable and affordable, introducing Stowell’s sense of quality (for example, he uses ham from Zoe’s Meats instead of product from Swift Pork) to a whole new audience. Families with kids stop by for slices, while adults can linger over a beer—especially after the media room is completed out back.

Unlike Ethan Stowell’s other restaurants, this one is casual dining. Survey the cases, step up the counter to order, then sit or stand at a table to await your food.

Unlike Ethan Stowell’s other restaurants, this one is casual dining. Survey the cases, step up the counter to order, then sit or stand at a table to await your food.

Seattleites can scan the room for someone who’ll demonstrate the proper, New York way of eating pizza. No forks, no knives…just fold that slice ahead of those first bites.

Seattleites can scan the room for someone who’ll demonstrate the proper, New York way of eating pizza. No forks, no knives…just fold that slice ahead of those first bites.

Precooked pizzas are stacked high on the counter. Slices warm up quite well, though you can order a whole pie if you want the freshest of pizza experiences.

Precooked pizzas are stacked high on the counter. Slices warm up quite well, though you can order a whole pie if you want the freshest of pizza experiences.

Here’s where it all starts. These massive balls of dough ideally proof for 24 hours before becoming culinary canvases.

Here’s where it all starts. These massive balls of dough ideally proof for 24 hours before becoming culinary canvases.

Chef Keiji demonstrates his pizza dough tossing and twirling skills.

Chef Keiji demonstrates his pizza dough tossing and twirling skills.

Toppings tell the tale of your pizza options. Kids of all ages love pepperoni, but you can also try toppings like guanciale, rapini, and garlic confit.

Toppings tell the tale of your pizza options. Kids of all ages love pepperoni, but you can also try toppings like guanciale, rapini, and garlic confit.

Fresh from the oven, Keiji serves up the day’s special pizza: fresh tomato and oil-cured olives.

Fresh from the oven, Keiji serves up the day’s special pizza: fresh tomato and oil-cured olives.

A look at the menu in the lights above the ovens. A separate beverage board offers a selection of local beer, as well as wine by the glass and bottle.

A look at the menu in the lights above the ovens. A separate beverage board offers a selection of local beer, as well as wine by the glass and bottle.

In addition to Caesar and garden salads, there’s this Italian chopped salad ($8) that is big enough to share with your pizza-eating partners.

In addition to Caesar and garden salads, there’s this Italian chopped salad ($8) that is big enough to share with your pizza-eating partners.

Wholes are $15 for plain cheese, with toppings $1.50 each. Pictured pies are pepperoni, along with ham and pineapple. Slices run $2.50 for cheese and $3.00 for specials. Here’s a closer look at the fresh tomato and oil-cured olive daily special, as well as the cheese slice. (I couldn’t resist a bite!)

Wholes are $15 for plain cheese, with toppings $1.50 each. Pictured pies are pepperoni, along with ham and pineapple. Slices run $2.50 for cheese and $3.00 for specials. Here’s a closer look at the fresh tomato and oil-cured olive daily special, as well as the cheese slice. (I couldn’t resist a bite!)

Want crust on the top and the bottom? There’s a daily stromboli, which on this day was pancetta and asparagus for $9.

Want crust on the top and the bottom? There’s a daily stromboli, which on this day was pancetta and asparagus for $9.

If you like pasta with your pizza, you’ll find both spaghetti and gnocchi on the menu. The spaghetti is fresh and cooked al dente, with a choice of either garlic and anchovy, or tomato sauce.

If you like pasta with your pizza, you’ll find both spaghetti and gnocchi on the menu. The spaghetti is fresh and cooked al dente, with a choice of either garlic and anchovy, or tomato sauce.

And if you simply need more cheese in your meal, this ricotta cheesecake with pistachio crust will help deliver your daily dose of calcium.

And if you simply need more cheese in your meal, this ricotta cheesecake with pistachio crust will help deliver your daily dose of calcium.

(Originally published at Serious Eats on May 8.)

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