A new wood-fired pizza restaurant will open this spring on the Foss Waterway. The owners of Social Bar and Grill plan a May debut for their new project - Paesan Kitchen & Bar. The restaurant will operate in the same building as Social, in the street-facing space that until earlier this month housed Dock Street Sandwich Company.
Tentacles of Social appear in Paesan - starting with the name. Pronounced “pie-zahn” - Paesan is Italian slang for “friend” or “buddy.” Like Social, Paesan is designed for gathering - only instead of shareable plates with far-flung flavors and preparations, Paesan will serve shareable pies - Neapolitan in style. Salads and a handful of appetizers will supplement the pies that will be constructed with ingredients intended for discerning palates. An early draft of a menu lists pizza toppers of ricotta, fontina, fresh mozzarella and gorgonzola. Meatier additions include salmon belly, clams, pancetta and house bacon. The toppings list skews deep in flavor - from pears to parsley, pesto to pomodoro, hot peppers to pineapple.
The restaurant will have a small attached bar, but the dining room will be friendly for all ages.
A quick resume on the owners - who opened neighboring Social in July 2011 - they’re all alumni of the locally grown Tex-Mex chain Matador. The owners are Philip Panagos, who previously worked as general manager of Tacoma’s Matador; Jason Bailey, who worked on the opening crew for five Matador restaurants and Rodel Borromeo, who was Matador’s corporate executive chef. Social has carved a niche as a summertime al fresco destination with views of Tacoma’s most brag-worthy landmarks - the waterway, Mt. Rainier, LeMay museum and neighboring Museum of Glass. Social is where I take visitors to make them envy our this-is-why-we-live-here views.
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The space at Paesan will be considerably smaller than its sister restaurant. Seating is planned for around 25 in the dining room, another 8 or so in the small attached bar and additional al fresco seating - when the weather cooperates - on an 800 square foot patio. Like Social, the al fresco dining space will be outfitted with fire tables.
Also like Social’s bustling display kitchen, the cooking at Paesan will be done in the open. As Panagos described, Paesan sounds similar in spirit to Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Portland. Diners will be greeted with a showpiece wood-fired oven near the restaurant’s entrance. They’re still shopping for that oven, but they do know that it will be fueled by wood - not a hybrid partially gas-fueled wood burning oven. They still haven’t settled on a wood source - that will be determined by the style of oven they install. Oak and applewood, Panagos said, are two woods they’re considering. Borromeo’s pizza crust recipe is also in flux as they decide the final details of the oven, but Panagos said diners should think of the pizza as thin-crust Neapolitan style pizza.
In the kitchen and in the dining room will be familiar faces from the kitchen and serving staff of Social. I’ll report more about staffing as the opening date approaches.
If Dock Street Sandwich Company’s closure is news to you - that cafe served its last sandwich and bowl of chipotle chili earlier this month (I miss their desserts already). I asked owner Jayna Marshall if she has any plans to open another restaurant and she said not unless someone with deep pockets and a pile of cash wants to fund it. Anyone?
Paesan Kitchen and BarWhere: 1701 Dock St., TacomaOpening: May 2013 (approximately)Find Paesan's Facebook page here
READ MORE:Read my 2011 first-bite review of Social here. Read my 2012 second-bite review a year later here. Here are stories about Social’s gazpacho, banana bread pudding, poke and summer cocktails.Social: 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253-301-3835 or thesocialbarandgrill.com