Brendan McGill will soon be making pizza on either end of the Seattle–Bainbridge ferry route. The chef behind all things Hitchcock (deli, bar, restaurant), and the Bainbridge Island pizzeria Bruciato, plans to open Bar Taglio in downtown Seattle later this summer.
While Bruciato traffics in pliably blistered Neapolitan-style slices, its new sibling across the water will serve sturdy Roman-style squares, which McGill classifies as "crunchy, crunchy bottom, light as air middle, and topped with all kinds of delicious stuff." Bar Taglio will sit at the corner of First and Marion in the Exchange Building, the same historic Art Deco digs that are home to his Cafe Hitchcock (the new spot will be just across the lobby). The name stems from the ancient city's practice of selling pizza by weight, or al taglio, but McGill's new bar will do a bit of cultural translation, serving its squares of pie in a handful of pre-determined sizes.
Toppings will range from uber-traditional pomodoro or potato with rosemary and pecorino to more modern, no-holds-barred combos a la Gabriele Bonci, Rome's famed pizza instigator. McGill went "deep down the rabbit hole" on an oven, mixer, even a prep table designed specifically for Roman pizza and plans to get certification from the Roman Pizza Academy.
The space will be open from 11–9 Monday through Saturday and be "a bar first and pizzeria second," says McGill. Esteemed barman Erik Hakkinen's doing his gin-heavy, yet Italocentric cocktail program, plus lots of great Italian wine, so the drinking side of the equation does sound pretty promising. An antipasti menu of meatballs, salads, salumi, and cheese boards will round out the pizza situation, and customers can get to-go pizza throughout the day and night.
Roman-style pizza's had some highs and lows in Seattle, between Mike Easton's all too short-lived Pizzeria Gabbiano and Renee Erickson's Willmott's Ghost, which serves its own take on Rome's pizza in the Amazon Spheres. For McGill, the approach is a way to run a slice joint that's compatible with downtown's desire for speedy fuel, but also plays to his creativity. Especially with crusts that can support more toppings than their Neapolitan brethren.
In his two years running Cafe Hitchcock, says McGill, "I’ve really learned a lot about the downtown crowd. It’s hungry and fast." While the cafe has established itself as a breakfast and lunch destination, he's found people don't always "want to drink in the same place they get their morning coffee." He envisions Bar Taglio as "a little oasis" suited to date nights or folks who want a more ambitious meal en route to a game.
This latest announcement caps off a busy streak for the Bainbridge-based chef, who opened Bar Hitchcock this past March, though McGill swears this project is a keystone of sorts, and he'll slow his roll from here. Bar Taglio is due in late summer at 822 First Ave.