About a year and a half ago, over a burger and beer at Loretta’s, some friends asked Sam Crannell if he’d ever thought about opening a pizza place. Well, as a matter of fact, a pizza spot was one of his lifelong goals. So, when LloydMartin, Crannell’s restaurant on Queen Anne had its last service on New Year’s Eve, the next excellent adventure began.
Those aforementioned friends, restaurateurs Rob Coburn and Paige Crandall of El Camino, also have pizza aspirations and tapped Crannell to create the menu. By next week, South Town Pie should be open to the public (barring any bogus issues with inspections and permits).
South Town Pie is fittingly next door to Loretta’s in South Park. Reclaimed wood, exposed grey brick, concrete floors, and a 30-foot-long wooden bar top stand out as the key “shabby-chic” components. Comfy, orange vinyl booths span the right side, there’s seating for up to 85, and a back patio is in the works. A vintage Blodgett deck oven is at the helm of the kitchen. There are only slots for four pies to bake at a time, so the focus here is more about fresh slices for under $4 each.
Speaking of the slices, this is not your standard pizza place—Crannell’s been cooking for over 20 years and he acknowledges that there is “a lot of good pizza in this city.” For him, after you have the strong base—the dough, the sauce, the cheese mix—it’s no holds barred. He’s slamming his Chicago roots with old-school Brooklyn-style recipes and a Neopolitan sauce with San Marzano tomatoes. (There is no other.) “It’s an 18-inch tavern pie," says Crannell, "A bastard kid of all of them.” The dough is made from Small’s Family Farm flour out of Walla Walla and the meats are Zoe’s.
“I want people leaving like they just had a hug from Grandma.” A pastrami pie with dill pickles, caramelized onion, and gruyere fondue could do that. Or one topped with wild boar ragu, smoked provolone, sage, and Funyuns. There will also be traditional options, like the pepperoni with 50 pieces on every pie. Then there are Crannell's "unicorn pies," one-offs that you might see only once in a lifetime. The chef was just spit-balling some possibilities like “a Frito pie with chili? Why not an Elvis-style pie? I’d be down for a chicken pot pie-pie, you might see rabbit on there…”
There will be ever-changing small plates, too. Some nights the menu might have housemade gnocchi or lasagna. (Hint, hint—there’s also an off-menu meatball sub, but you’ll have to know the password.) And Full Tilt has the ice cream on lock, they’re in the process of creating a Ziggy Piggy (“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” reference, anyone?), which is a huge pile of ice cream that they dare you to try to finish. Twelve beer taps pouring domestics and micros, plus tallboys, wine, and an under-$10 cocktail menu for drinks. Expect “adult combo meals,” but don't worry, the restaurant space is all ages.
Since closing LloydMartin, Crannell says planning South Town Pie has been “one of the most therapeutic things I could have done." Though he’s nostalgic for the olden days of Seattle. “To be honest, the little guys’ not winning—I’d still be open if the little guy was winning.” And for that, he plans to keep menu prices low.
To be clear, this is just a temporary pit stop for Crannell as the opening chef here. He’ll be traveling on to another venture as soon as the time is right.