With a minimal Italian population, you’d hardly expect the Seattle area to be world-famous for its pizza. Chicago has its deep dish and New York its thin crust, and even places like Connecticut, St. Louis and New Jersey have distinctive pizza styles and reputations. It could be argued Seattle doesn't have a distinct pizza culture and that's okay.
Northwest pizza is actually liberated from all of the rules. You like it thick and hearty with a ton of fresh ingredients on top? You got it. Prefer an Old World experience? We got that too.
What unifies the Northwest pizza scene are friendly, laid-back atmospheres, a selection of great microbrews and plenty of innovation. Come find your pizza.
If Tribunali does gourmet pizza Italian-style, Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen shows that the Old World does not have a monopoly on artisan pizza. Local celeb chef Tom Dougla offers high-falutin pizzas like the Yukon Gold Potato Pizza and Penn Cove Clam Pizza, but the standout is actually the basic home-made Mozzarella and Tomato pizza. The weekday happy hour here is a great deal, with deals on half pies and draft beer. In the evening, expect a long wait to get a table.
Location: 316 Virginia Street
Northlake is one of Seattle’s oldest establishments and a staple of North Lake Union. Located on the south edge of the University District, Northlake is a magnet for hungry students. But this isn’t the typical college area pizza that sacrifices quality for low cost and late hours. Northlake is almost overly generous with high-quality ingredients—you will not leave hungry. Unfortunately for families, this is a 21-and-up establishment.
Location: 660 Northlake Way (U-District)
While The Rock may look like a Tacoma's version of a Hard Rock Café, the pizza is more than just a gimmick. The wood-fired oven imbues the pizza with a complex smoky flavor and there are some great, creative pies among the 25 specialty pizzas—with “rock” related names that vary from clever to corny. Try the lunch buffet, which lets you sample a surprising number of these great pizzas. The Rock is expanding their franchise quickly with ten locations and more on the way in B.C.
Locations: Queen Anne, Tacoma (the original "test kitchen"), Lacey, Federal Way, Renton and more
Pagliacci is Western Washington’s flagship pizza chain, with six dine-in pizzerias and fifteen delivery-only locations, covering most of Seattle and Bellevue. Despite the ubiquity, they’ve remained beloved by Seattlites, who keep Pagliacci on speed-dial. For delivery, try the simple, classy Margherita or the Salumi Pepperoni (yes, that Salumi). For dine-in, try to hit the happy hour, where you can snag a free drink with your slice.
Locations: U-District, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Bellevue
With neighborhoods like Ballard racing up-scale, Georgetown is a laid-back treat that hearkens back to Seattle before the high-tech boom of the '90s. Stellar offers great pizza in a casual, funky atmosphere. The pizza is heavy and loaded with fresh ingredients. If you’ve got the kids, consider The Beanie (lots of pepperoni, extra cheese). For date night, try The Carleton (goat cheese, mushrooms, garlic). Be warned, the advertised 25-30 minutes wait time for a pie is not an exaggeration. It's worth the wait.
Location: 5513 Airport Way S (Georgetown)
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the classy, Neapolitan-style Via Tribunali. Every effort has been made to create an immersive continental dining environment: from all-Italian imported ingredients to a real wood-fire oven, a deep and adventurous, all-Italian wine list (no beer, alas) and a menu that spells it pizze. There are now five locations, but try to get to the original on Pike, with its brick walls, stained glass and towering ceilings.
Locations: Fremont, Belltown, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Georgetown
No, there’s no actual squirrel meat pizza on this menu (disappointed? This is probably your kind of place). But this hidden gem, only a few blocks from Seward Park in residential southeast Seattle, offers maybe the best all-around pizza in town. Artsy and adventurous pies on delicious charred crusts served in hearty doses and a warm neighborhood atmosphere. Flying Squirrel includes local ingredients from Zoe’s Meats, Salumi, local farms and Molly Moon’s ice cream. And how can you not love a place that lets you bring in your own cassette mix tape? If there's one pizzeria that combines everything that's great about Seattle pizza, this is it.
Locations: Seward Park, Georgetown, Maple Leaf
Edited by Kristin Kendle.