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So we’ve already discussed the tragic paucity of proper pizza in Seattle and praised Tutta Bella for saving our Neapolitan asses. But what about traditional, American-style pizzeria pizza? Pagliacci isn’t particularly terrible quality-wise, but the “restaurants” are all cookie-cutter chain storefronts with zero character and less ambience. No, Pagliacci should be a last resort and even then, strictly for takeout. So what about going out for pizza? Is there really nothing? Well my friends, all is not lost. There is indeed a single mecca within city limits and it can be found in the industrial wilds of Georgetown. I’m talking about Stellar, haunt of the rockabilly and savior of pizza.
I don’t think there’s ever been a time that I’ve been to Stellar when it hasn’t been rollicking to the max. Seriously people, if you are inclined to rollick, this is the place for you. They’ve got kind of a retro-60′s kitschy vibe going on, with lots of weird mismatched crap scattered everywhere. There are two main rooms with tables and booths and a pool table and pinball. The lights are neon and the music is loud. Tattoos are apparently a work requirement. There is a painting of Johnny Cash on the wall. More recently, a life-size cardboard Obama will greet you upon entering. The jukebox will rock your face off.
And so will the pizza. Mammoth 16-inch pies hand-tossed and made to order, so get comfortable and order a pitcher of Diamond Knot India Pale Ale (my absolute favorite local microbrew). Order a salad? By all means go for it, but they are approximately the size of your head. You may be tempted at some point to inquire about the status of your pizza – don’t bother. The waitstaff are all totally punk rock and they don’t have time for your shenanigans (I love them). The patrons are mostly from the neighborhood or celebrating a birthday or getting shitfaced at the bar after work. You know, like a real pizzeria!
What makes Stellar’s pizza stand out from every other place in town is their red sauce. It’s really quite distinct, fresh and sweet and peppery. The mozzarella is apportioned correctly, and the toppings are generous but not overdone. In the best of all possible worlds, the crust would be a little more flavorful, but it’s always crispy and never overcooked or soggy. There are lots of different specialty pies to choose from, the classic being the Georgetowner – pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, black olives and onions. The sausage is ground with caraway and fennel and packs some heat. Another unique favorite is the Corson Classic, which features sliced Yukon potatoes, gorgonzola cheese and beautiful sweet white onions. It’s definitely an experience, but generally I prefer to build my own pizzas with the usual toppings on hand (and something called Mama Lil’s Kick Butt peppers). I am partial to the roasted garlic, whole cloves scattered over the pizza surface, toasty and smooth.
We’re lucky to have Stellar, even if it is a bit of hike to get down there. Look for the gigantic neon “S” and a fleet of Vespas parked out front. Go get your rollick on.
So! It finally opened and I somehow managed to get into The Corson Building. That was several weeks ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. The experience was a tipping point, resulting in the words you are reading today. No longer content to simply harangue friends and family with my food rants, Matthew Dillon’s next generation Herbfarm pushed me onto the internet, a registered domain, a forum to share my regrettably unprofessional opinions on the Puget Sound food scene.
Dillon’s approach to food is honest and open to everyone, both humble and generous. This approach has garnered diehard fans and rave reviews for his other restaurant, Sitka & Spruce. The principles remain the same at the Corson Building, but the scale is much grander. We arrived on a late summer evening, and wandered around the garden sipping sparkling rosé and snacking on end-of-season cherries. We were invited into the kitchen, explored the property, marveled at the garden and the chickens in the heart of industrial Georgetown and eventually sat down to dinner. Dining is communal and the courses are served family-style (thankfully our tablemates were all food enthusiasts so the conversation was lively and natural). Be aware – there is no menu. The five course meal is based on locavore love: whatever is fresh and in-season that day.
We started with a pork head cheese / terrine served with gooseberries, radish and onion (brilliant). Next: a mussel and green bean salad with toasted walnuts. Calimari – both the body (tubes) and tentacles presented separately with bell pepper varietals and emmer in olive oil. An heirloom tomato salad with colossal grilled sardines. A rabbit course, served with peach leaves, almonds and fresh grilled zucchini. Followed by wagyu tritip and homemade yogurt (mind-blowing). Finally, a custard with loganberries (I think?) and apricots. The wine pairings were spot on, although it was hard to keep track of the names (one notable Burgundy, served chilled). We finished with a Soave.
Dining was slow and lasted until midnight. Truly a remarkable experience. (Did I mention the rabbit?) Can’t recommend it highly enough. Go now!