After moving to Seattle, my first part-time job was at Pagliacci in the U-District. Considering myself a bit of a pizza connoisseur, a title bestowed upon me because I was born and raised in New York City, I found this place, with its Italian movie posters and unusual offerings of diverse toppings, odd indeed. Before I begin my review, I must admit there are a few other places that make pizza a little better. However, Pagliacci goes a step further by taking their pizza mainstream by the creation of a variety of seasonal specialty pizzas.
From the beginning, Pagliacci has maintained their mantra of keeping the ir menu simple. What I mean by this is that they understand that it is their pizza which makes them so intensely popular. If you are not a pizza eater (and I’m not sure how you could not be) Pagliacci has other items that should satisfy you, such as salads, calzone, lasagna, centioli (a super thin pizza crust) and breadsticks.
So what is it about the pizza at Pagliacci that makes it so popular? The answer is they have taken the classic pepperoni and even the daring Canadian bacon and pineapple to a whole new level. The primo pizzas are Pagliacci’s interpretation of gourmet pies. Primos can range from choices like the AGOG (fontina and mozzarella cheese, roasted garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, goat cheese, parsley and kalamata olives) to a Chicken Primo (chicken, artichoke hearts, red onion, peppers, mozzarella and ricotta).
Pagliacci has established that they have cornered the market with their gourmet pizzas but I wanted to see how a regular cheese pizza rated. I know it’s not fair to compare this pizza with the kind that I grew to love in New York, but I’m going to anyway. To begin with, pizza should be oily. It’s a sign that the mozzarella cheese is of high quality. It’s obvious that Pagliacci uses quality ingredients because I’ve seen the “grease haters” patting down their slices with a wad of napkins before enjoying.
Pagliacci pizza also has some sturdy structure to it. This is indeed a bizarre way to describe food but hear me out. The proper way to eat a pizza is to fold it in half (cutting it up with a knife and fork is unacceptable unless you are under the age of 4). Once you fold a slice it should still point out straight. If the beginning of the slice (the tip where you would take your first bite) droops down then that means that they stretched the dough too thin. However, you also do not want the bottom to crack, a sure fire sign that the dough was too thick. Since Pagliacci has made an art out of proportioning their ingredients you can rest assured that your slice will neither droop nor crack.
As for the flavor, the cheese is excellent. It produces the right amount of tangy oils that make pizza so fantastic. On the down side, I find Pagliacci’s sauce is a bit too spicy. This is a personal preference as I prefer pizza sauces to be sweeter. You can avoid them over-spicing your pizza pie by asking them not to dash oregano on the sauce before baking.
The one legitimate complaint about Pagliacci is their price. If you order a large cheese pizza (17 inches) you’re looking at roughly $16. Many of their primos also run around $21. However, many of the primos are delicious and, as we all know, high-end creative pizza commands a high-end price.