As a recent transplant from NYC, I’m constantly on the lookout for great pizza here in the Northwest. We have incredible seafood, an abundance of awesome Asian cuisine, and of course, the best coffee in the country, but pizza has always felt a little ho hum here, which is such a let down after years of unlimited super delicious NYC pies.
Lucky for me, after a fair amount of Friday night “Pizza Research” that my husband and I embarked on, we discovered this gem right down the street from our house. Humble Pie is run by Brian Solazzi, an incredibly intelligent and fascinating architect-turned-restaurateur who has made it his mission to offer organic, fairly priced, high quality food to his neighbors. We stopped by one afternoon to tour the space, learn about his operation, meet the chickens who produce eggs for the restaurant and obviously, eat a whole bunch of really great pizza. Read on to hear all about his adventures in pizza making in the Northwest.
Tell us a bit about Humble Pie and why you decided to open it on the edge of the International District?
Humble Pie is a wood fired pizzeria rooted in three goals: make the most delicious, healthiest pizza possible, strive towards increased sustainability of all our practices, and to benefit our local community. We are located in the ID because that is where my roots are. I’ve lived here for years, and I even went to the Japanese school across the street from humble pie when I was a kid.
How did you get into the food and restaurant industry, and what drew you into wood fired pizza making in particular?
Pizza is one of the perfect foods. Like burritos, it is a complete meal, with all the food groups brought together in one delicious meal you can eat with your hands. Although we make some more adventurous pizzas, the traditional Italian wood fired oven is at the heart of our kitchen. In addition to pizza of course, we do all our prep cooking by fire. It’s amazing how precise the old world technology is. As for me, the first real job I ever had was making pizza, way back in high school. I’ve been dreaming about pizza ever since.
Can you give us a run down on a day in the life of a pizza maker?
Great pizza is all about great dough, and that’s how I start all my days. Our dough needs to cure for a minimum of 24 hours, so it’s important to get an early start. After dough we start in on the rest of the prep, and by 11am we are ready to serve lunch. After lunch we’ve got a little window to finish up on prepping for dinner and the next day, and of course there is the other side of things, which is the running the business. You’ve got to wear a lot of hats to make it work, and there is always work to be done. Luckily my coworkers are world class people as well as pizza makers.
Tell us a bit about the ingredients you use for you pizzas…much of it is grown here on location. Can you tell us about this process, and the thinking behind it?
Our flour comes from a Washington farmers coop, our apples, potatoes, red and yellow onions, mushrooms and eggplant are all Washington grown organic, we grow our own organic basil… I could go on and on about ingredients and quality and values, but by now I think most foodies can agree that local, fresh, and sustainable, are not only the best for the planet, but also make for the most delicious food.
Who are your favorite Seattle chefs? Best places to get a meal in this city?
There is a place for food as art, and sometimes an excellent meal can be worth a steep price, but I favor more ‘daily bread’ type of establishments. Mark and Picha at Thai Curry Simple are incredible chefs and excellent people. Both Chu Minh and Thanh Son Tofu are wonderful places to eat. Lately I’ve been loving Gastropod as well.
What is your favorite part about living and working in the Northwest?
The people. Unpretentious,casual, and open minded.
Any new dining trend you’re loving right now? Any you’re so not into?
The best dining trend in the Northwest, bar none, is BEER! As a lifelong vegetarian I probably don’t get a vote on this, but I am so over the pork trend.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about running a small business, and being an entrepreneur?
Believe in yourself. Unlike more recondite professions, with restaurants, everyone has an opinion on everything. You’ve got to learn to listen with compassion and an open mind, while keeping true to your own values and vision.
Best pizza on the menu?
Do I have to choose just one? Alright, how about the smoked eggplant with fresh red onion and cherry tomatoes.
Head on over to Humble Pie if you get a chance! The outdoor seating is plentiful and perfect for the hot weekend ahead. I highly recommend the pizza with Apples, Beecher’s Cheese, and Spiced Walnuts… delicious!!
525 Rainier Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98144
Photos by KettleWerks.