Thursday, September 5, 2013

Serious Pie

Rounding out my trip to Seattle, I had to stop by Tom Douglas's esteemed pizzeria that ain't no laughing matter-

Serious Pie. I had heard that Tom, arguably Seattle's greatest restauranteur with 14 restaurants and multiple James Beard awards to his name, was behind some interesting pizza in the heart of downtown Seattle. Just steps from Pike Place Market where I had just spent the morning, who was I to say no?

I hit the joint at an off hour, which left the place rather quiet- though it was obvious SP gets packed at peak times so I was grateful. I knew straightaway, as I do everywhere I visit, that I had to order a Margherita (which at Serious Pie comes with mozzarella di bufala by default), but as I poured over the menu, I just couldn't shake trying his potato pizza.

And there you have it! Let's tackle the Margherita first-

Gotta love that oblong shape. Sure, there's nothing wrong with a symmetrical pie, but it's always nice to see some variation. This one in particular really reminded me of some of the pies at L'asso in NYC. Maybe it's just because I like grabbing square slices down the center, but consider me a fan.

I'll be honest, and I know I've made this point before: I'm not the biggest fan of julienned basil. In my opinion, basil has the best and brightest flavor when the leaf is first broken. After this point, the potency dissipates, particularly when you slice it to shreds. That aside, I really loved this pizza.

The sauce was light and sweet, and the mozz cooked perfectly to the point of almost liquidizing. What I couldn't place my finger on was what was being added on top for seasoning- it wasn't pepper or oregano, but it gave the pizza a little zing, rounding out a great product. But enough on that, I'm eager to show you this potato homeboy, the pizza that really sang for me-

Now I love pizza (obviously), and I've always loved potatoes in just about any form they can possibly come in, but a potato pizza is no easy feat to pull off well. At its worst, it manifests itself in big hunks like at Pizzeria Paradiso, when decent it can look like the mashed potato and bacon pizza at Bar in New Haven, but this- this is how potatoes on pizza is done, ladies and gentlemen.

Certain challenges present themselves when you decide to put potato on a pizza. First, you don't want a starch overload. How often do you see potato paired with bread? Not too often, because a little of both goes a long way.

Second, and more importantly, you essentially need to cook the potato twice- first on its own, then again on the pizza. In doing so, you really need to know (just as you would with any other par-cooked topping) when to stop cooking it the first time around. What Tom has done here has delivered, against the odds, beautifully moist, buttery slivers of spuds a top a perfectly cooked pie. My hat is off to you, sir.

Paired with the rosemary and post-oven Pecorino Romano, the potatoes are imparted with just the right amount of seasoning and salt to better tie these near-potato chips to the pizza.

But ultimately what Tom has on his hands here is some great goddamn bread. His dough recipe, whatever it is, is something I would eat plain every day of the week. He of course is fully aware, and opened Serious Biscuit to expand this market.

Using what seems to be a custom Woodstone gas-assisted wood-burning brick oven, Tom Douglas and his crew sure know what they're doing.


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