Olmypia Pizza and Spaghetti House vs. Acropolis Pizza and Pasta
We won’t contest the notion it was the Italians who really mastered the whole pizza thing, but peek into the ovens of Seattle’s pizzaioli, and you find a surprising number of pies subscribing to the Grecian code of crust. By definition this means a hefty cliff of dough rises thickly around the rim like an easy-grip handle. Sculpting it takes finesse—too much bread overwhelms the toppings; the thinner, spongy interior requires a just-so coating of oil. It’s all about balance.
Cue Evangelos Pappas, who has owned Olympia Pizza atop Queen Anne since 1991. He takes inspiration from time-tested family recipes passed down “from mother to mother to mother to mother.” Pappas started working in a restaurant at age eight, so no wonder that after over 40 years in the biz he churns out pies with innate dexterity. His are masterful collages of texture, such as the Greek, in which a blanket of feta cheese—crunchy golden on the outside, with a smattering of bubbly brown pocks—conceals velvety dollops draped over onions, tomatoes, spinach, and housemade marinara. The biscuity dough starts soft and thin in the center and then bulks up with each outward bite.
Another notable Greek joint, Acropolis Pizza and Pasta over in Kirkland seems to have the crust figured out, especially with its pleasant pillowlike texture. Thing is, some pockets teem with so much oil the crust practically disintegrates—delicious—but others yield a tough, dried-out cake. Thank goodness, then, for the oily mess of meats (pepperoni, salami, and sausage) dressing the joint’s titular triumph—piled so high even a generous layer of cheese fails to fully cover it. Add in some veggies and you have a smorgasbord-packed punch that has Eastsiders crowding the restaurant at midday.
BOTTOM LINE: Olympia masterfully balances heritage with culinary craft.
New York Style
Topolino's vs. A New York Pizza Place
A New York pie is a matter of hand-thrown dough, exquisite mozzarella, thin crust, simple toppings, and portable slices. And though it’s become the default style of the many pizzerias in town that don’t know how else to categorize their pies—a couple of joints are fiercely intentional about their East Coast roots. Topolino’s and A New York Pizza Place both appear to labor hard for anonymity—they’re dives. With generic signage and plastic tablecloths at ANYPP and hardly room to stand at Topolino’s (Sitting? Fuhgettaboutit!)—the appeal of neither is in their quarters.
The appeal is in the pies. At Topolino’s, a Bellevue spot cofounded by Brooklyn expat Robert Abergel, crusts are thin but appealingly puffy, topped with rich whole-milk mozzarella, fresh garlic, and a deftly herbal sauce. We liked the feisty clam pie and a subtler number with pesto and ricotta—we even liked the dingy storefront and brash service, essential New York ingredients.
Across the lake at ANYPP, Doug Armatage runs a less consistent enterprise that nevertheless soars higher. We sampled a few ho-hum pies on cardboard crusts—only to have our socks knocked clean off by the Hudson River, an improbable triumph of chicken, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, red onions, and cilantro. Huh? say the New Yorkers. But on this pie the crust was perfect: flavorful and crispy and gloriously blistered. A big salad presented an original mix of greens with kalamatas and roasted red peppers. Chocolate chip cookies were gratis. All was right in the world.
BOTTOM LINE: Reliably solid like Topolino’s or periodically stunning like A New York Pizza Place? You make the call.