It’s kind of disorienting to approach the old Lark location on 12th Ave and see a giant TV glowing through the front windows—set to ESPN, no less. But one bite of pizza—hearty crust, verdant with chickpea pesto, sprinkled with za’atar—and you get it. Southpaw is now officially open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
When John Sundstrom relocated Lark to its stunning new digs a few blocks away, he and partners Kelly Ronan and JM Enos (she’s also his wife) had to figure out what to do with the space he left behind. Pulling off a high-end menu in that tiny kitchen was always a challenge, so it made sense to simple. A place where his nearly teenage son might actually want to hang out with friends. Piecora’s, where Sundstrom ate on his first night as a Seattle resident, had just closed, leaving this corner of Capitol Hill in need of a slice joint.
All signs pointed to pizza. Not the New York style of Piecora’s, but Sundstrom’s own hybrid approach. He built a Naples-esque wood oven out back, but instead of relying on the traditional soft, baby-fine flour, he worked with Small Family Farms in Walla Walla to mill a custom blend of local wheat. It makes for a slightly sturdier crust—the official term in Sundstrom’s kitchen is “crunchewy”—and packs more flavor.
“I like pizza that can hold up to a lot of toppings,” says Sundstrom. Southpaw’s lineup of 16-inch pies look like seasonal starters from Lark in pizza form: sugar pumpkin and goat cheese with caramelized onions, maple syrup, and pumpkin seeds. Or taleggio cheese with Romanesco and smoked pine nut tahini. Even the cheese pizza is made with the traditional mozzarella and Grana Padano alongside straciatella and creamy Flora’s Cheese from Kurtwood Farms.
These combos, obviously, skew largely vegetarian. However this is hardly a meatless joint. Southpaw’s menu is designed for customers to pick a pizza, then add a meaty add-on if desired: guanciale, crispy chicken skins, nduja, oxtail, sardines…plus more straightforward toppings like fennel sausage, salami, or a fried egg.
If the pies are ruggedly fancy, the space has dressed down considerably. It still packs the vaulted-ceiling charms of the original Lark, but now with sturdy booths and long tables and a counter for ordering pizza. There’s also a boxing theme: vintage photos on the walls, pizzas with names like Title Fight and Uppercut. Southpaw is a boxing stance (Sundstrom isn’t left-handed, but he does box as a workout. The more you know.)
Some pies come by the slice, and there’s a menu of clever salads and garden-leaning sides, stuff for kids, and desserts like housemade soft serve topped with bourbon brittle or cookie crumbles, zeppole doughnuts, and Enos’s insane chocolate chip cookies, which have built their own following over at Slab Sandwich and Pie. Literally the entire drink menu is on tap; there’s nary a bottle of beer or wine.
Southpaw is open daily from 11-11. The menu should be up on the website soon.