Biking home from a friend's in Pioneer Square at about midnight on Saturday night, I took Meinert up on his Facebook blast that he'd be hanging out at Big Mario's (1009 E. Pike St. on Capitol Hill) until 4am.
And there he was at one of the booths, showing off a hot slice of pepperoni ("Big enough to fold, but not so greasy that the oil runs off when you hold it upside down." This was his New York taste test).
Someone at the booth slid a calzone across the table for me to taste, and I ate the whole thing. It sure passed my New York taste test.
The place was jammed, the jukebox was humming with rock, and the staff was hustling back and forth from the kitchen to the window service on Pike St.
In 2003, I wrote a column for the Stranger that started like this:
Hey, I've got a top-secret business plan. A can't-lose proposition. Here's my big idea: set up a pizzeria on the busiest late-night street in town and sell slices to last-call foot traffic as the clamorous local bars dump their hungry crowds onto the boulevard.
What's that? A no-brainer, you say? Totally obvious? What's the big deal, you ask?
I'll tell you what the big deal is: This basic concept doesn't exist in Seattle. The most annoying thing I've ever seen in town was a sign taped on the piping hot stainless-steel Bakers Pride oven at the otherwise inviting Hot Mama's Pizza on Pine Street. It read: "Kitchen Closes at 10:45."
The sign is no longer hanging, but the offending 11:00 p.m. final closing time is still in effect.
Like anyone who's ever been on Seattle's Saturday-night strip (Pine Street), hungry for a single slice of pizza at the shocking hour of 10:46 p.m. (or even midnight), I'm appalled to report that there's no getting your fix.
For me, the Hot Mama's sign pretty much summed up everything that's wrong with this town.
Sorry to be so serious about this, but I was just in Washington, D.C., and damn if I didn't hop off the subway after midnight and grab a slice. Mass public transit. Late-night pizzerias. Seems related.
I can't do much about mass transit, but I can do something about this late-night food issue. (I've counted only about 10 cheap late-night options.) So, I've convinced a friend to cash out of his high-tech job and help me open a Pine Street pizza joint. Our pizza joint will be across the street from Hot Mama's. I'm going to call it 10:46 Pizza, and our kitchen will be open from 10:46 p.m. to 2:46 a.m.
Things move slowly in Seattle, but I'm thrilled with how this is all turning out. I biked home around 2am and was inside a Sonic Youth song.
Smashed-up against a car at three A.M.
Kids just up for basketball, beat me in my head
I'm not kidding. Some dumb kid clocked me in my bike helmet as I was coasting by. I stopped and asked him what the hell he was doing. He was a little surprised that I stopped, and started apologizing. No need. I like being in a Sonic Youth song in Seattle.