(BlatherMunch is our Sunday foodish respite from political bias, media dish, snotty intenuendo, and liberal glee. For more essays on food & dining click here or 'BlatherMunch' in Categories).
In another life, I was the executive chef at the lavish and exclusive UW private club, Sigma Chi.
That's really an attempt at irony: It was a McJob I had once as a cook in a frat house. There's a distinct and carefully-tendered Greek hierarchy; Sigma Chi is a big, gnarly fraternity, but a frat house is a frat house.
(The denizens of that freakish, vomit-strewn environment are no better, no worse than any clot of young men of that cursed age living in communal collegiate situations. Dormies and the vermin of lesser fraternities have the same low morals; high decibel levels; preference for filth; alcohol thirst, and hornitude as these young gentlemen. Frats take the hit for all the beer-swilling, gang-banging barbaric behavior when actually it's the entire demographic which should be bound and gagged during those years of alleged development).
This is a belabored lead into the word "zaw," the slang in the frat house for pizza, a dish I was required by contract to cook for at least one dinner a week despite that the bretheren ate it take-out around the clock on every day of the week.
(photo: half Arizawna/half Savory Savary, BEFORE)
'Zaw is attempting the bake-at-home pizza, a great concept that's had mixed results over the centuries with Papa Murphy's seemingly doing OK in a field that's distinctly uncrowded.
The difference is 'Zaw is so-called artisan pizza and has a thin, crispy-edged, Roman-style crust, uses all manner of grrrr-met ingredients like arugula and portabellas and prosciutto and does beer and wine pairings with West coast wines which they'll sell you on the spot.
'Zaw doesn't smell like a pizza joint: You know: the pall of re-baked cured meat, burnt oregano and cheese-grease that realtors say -- like the smell of the rotting corpse in the T-Bird of urban legend -- can never be removed from a commercial space.
The place smells like yeasty raw dough. The deal is: you take the pies home and pop 'em in a 425 degree oven for 12 minutes. The home-baking suits the thin crusts which wouldn't be so good if long out of the oven. Obviously, everything is fresher about these pizzas.
The owners vow never to serve product in "a grease-bottomed box that lifelessly implies, “'You’ll regret this in the morning.'”
(There's a lot of cute menu copy excusable only because we liked the food. If this had been bad pizza, we would demand the copywriter be laid on an "olive-oil painted crust" topped with "'shroom enhancers asiago and mozzarella" and flopped onto a "grill in Montlake on Saturday, and in SoDo on Sunday.")
We took some of these pizzas home and here's how they ate:
We loved The Savory Savary (what the hell is a 'Savary'???) with hot Italian sausage, maple syrup carmelized red onions, fresh sage, and asiago, and parm. But the Arizawna sounded more interesting than it actually was with smoked chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, red sweet peppers, and scoops of fresh ricotta. The Chicago Deli has deli meats: prosciutto, salami, and best of all. thick bacon. Not sure why this is "a classic ode to Wrigleyville" but it was great.
(photo: half Arizawna/half Savory Savary, AFTER)
The only pie I really had a problem with was The Cowardly Apricot with its roast chicken two types of apricot, maple syrup-carmelized red onions and gorgonzola. It's too sweet, like one of the kinds of apricots is marmalade. There's not enough tang, just a rather overbearing sweetness. The gorgonzola could have balanced that, I suppose, but there was hardly enough of that to taste.
I've been picky, here, but I really like this place, love the idea of take & bake and plan to return. We especially like that they didn't argue about putting two kinds of pizza on one crust, that there's no pineapple to be found on the menu, and that they're opening a shop in Ballard -- a neighborhood that desperately needs another restaurant.