You know a restaurant desert when you enter it. Isolated neighborhoods or communities with a smattering of businesses, but short on eateries. One such stretch is a street that connects the Stadium and Proctor neighborhoods: North I Street, which turns into North 21st before it hits Proctor. Another is Eatonville, which has a good but limited field of dining in a small-town setting. New pizza restaurants have opened in each. Read on for the details.
The North I Street neighborhood (sometimes called the Three Bridges District) is bookended by the Parkway Tavern on the far edge several blocks up and Magoo’s Annex on the other side that approaches Proctor. The neighborhood is home to two decent stops for coffee and sandwiches: The newly opened Cafe Brosseau, and the coffee kiosk at Dave’s Meat and Produce run by Gageby Farms Cafe, producers of great focaccia sandwiches and cookies.
A pizzeria relocating from the Sixth Avenue neighborhood called Sammy’s sounded as if it could be a good addition to that neighborhood short on restaurants, but owner Guy Snell found otherwise when neighbors objected to his plans to open a pub space, called Petey’s Pub, just off the dining room.
Sammy’s and Petey’s would mirror the business he operated on Sixth Avenue. That business started as a Garlic Jim’s franchise in 2007, but in 2011 Snell turned it into a pizzeria using his own crust recipes, then he opened an adjacent pub. He closed the business last summer to move to North I Street.
A letter circulated last fall by nearby Lowell Elementary School parents raised a list of worries about a pub opening across the street from an elementary school. The Tacoma School District agreed. The parents and the district filed objections with the state Liquor Control Board. School district attorney Shannon McMinimee said the district objection is a matter of protocol when it is notified – as required by state law – that a business will be selling alcohol within 500 feet of a main entrance to a school. The objections sent Snell’s application for a liquor license into limbo.
With his liquor license contested, he went ahead and opened Sammy’s pizzeria three weeks ago without a license to serve beer, and the adjacent pub sits empty. Diners can get pizza for take-out, delivery or dine-in in a small dining room that looks to be a work in progress, too. Snell thinks he can make a go of it with delivery - he noted that he has a broad delivery range through much of Tacoma.
What's not certain is the pub he wanted to open. Snell still is contemplating his next move. He might tweak the concept to something else. He’s not sure.
In the meantime, he’s hoping diners will come in for some pizza. He's serving pies in different styles — a thicker hand-tossed crust, a thin-crust garlic as well as a gluten-free crust.
The pizza is much like what he served at Sammy’s on Sixth. His pies are nicely blasted in a hot oven, with blistered edges and crust with a nice chewy resistance. He makes his dough from scratch, and it tastes like it. I asked him where he learned to make those styles of crust and he said from friends — one of whom used to own DelBrocco’s, a great Sixth Avenue sandwich and pizza restaurant that closed.
What’s missing from Sammy’s Pizza restaurant — and looks to remain so — is the microbrew list Snell offered on Sixth Avenue. It was nothing as extensive as the Parkway’s tap offering, but Snell poured microbrews such as Hop Notch IPA from Utah’s Uinta Brewing and Tricerahops Double IPA from Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing Company.
In case you're wondering about the names - the pub and pizzeria are named after his dogs, both fox terriers.
Regardless of what happens with the liquor permit, Sammy’s is a decent option for take-out or delivery. Snell bakes a good pie.
Bertoglio’s Pizza Where: 102 Weyerhaeuser Road N., Eatonville, 360-832-6006, Facebook
Ask Seven Bertoglio’s, the owner of Eatonville’s newest pizza shop, about his favorite topping and it’ll be a lengthy conversation about chunks versus tidbits. In the smackdown of sparsely or heavily topped pizza, Bertoglio falls into the contingent of “bigger is better.”
Bigger isn’t how one should describe Bertoglio’s, which opened Feb. 14. The restaurant is small, serving take-out only. Bertoglio started his pizza restaurant in Eatonville to cater to diners in need of a take-and-bake pie for a quick dinner, although he can bake the pies to go, as well. The community was short on quick dining options, he said, and he wanted to add another.
Bertoglio — whose name really is Seven, not Steven — is a former painting contractor taking on pizza as a second career. This is his first restaurant. The short menu reads much like other take-and-bake pizza restaurants. The hours aren’t quite set yet as Bertoglio gets through a few more weeks of business. He thinks he’ll open in the later afternoon on weekdays, with longer hours Friday and Saturday. He’ll work a shorter schedule Sunday.
Sue Kidd dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Reach her at 253-597-8270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.