Elemental Pizza, downtown Tacoma’s newest eatery, opened Saturday at 1702 Pacific Ave.
The two-story wood-fired pizza restaurant is an outpost of the Seattle restaurant and is a first South Sound location for the company that also operates a mobile wood-fired pizza restaurant.
I popped in while things were still slow (recently posted photos on the restaurant’s Facebook page suggest that’s no longer the case). Here’s a quick first bite. The News Tribune’s policy is to withhold criticism of food and service until after the first month of operation. This is simply a glance at what you’ll find on a first visit.
MENU: A two-page menu. Wood-fired pizza, sandwiches, a few pastas, salads and appetizers. Prices are $13-$16 for individual 12-inch pies (18 specialty pies are listed); $9-$11 for appetizers; $4.50-$6 for soups; $6.50-$13 for salads; $15 for pastas (only two were listed). See photos of menu above. You won’t find a menu yet on the restaurant’s website.
FOOD OVERVIEW: The menu seems to focus on many of the buzz terms diners love these days. Locally-sourced meats. A tap list full of Tacoma brew (no complaints here). Gluten-free crusts are an offering for a $3 surcharge. Premium ingredients are in play here. Arugula, prosciutto, kale, hot coppa, etc.
THE PIES: Pizzas are of the chewy crust variety, with a sturdy texture (read: No pizza flop is the goal here). Saucing was light. Toppings were evenly distributed.
BEVERAGES: Full line of sodas, plus beer, wine and cocktails. The beer list looked straight outta the South Sound. Harmon, Wingman, Pacific Brewing and Malting, 7 Seas, and Silver City all represented.
THEME: The element theme is supported with nods to made-up food elements (Pa is for pasta; Sp is for soups, etc.). I think I’ve jumped my own personal shark with that sort of cutesy stuff, but kids should dig it.
DINERS: Kids and families. This restaurant screams for you. Comfortable, well-spaced tables upstairs and seating for large parties downtstairs. There’s a private dining area with seating for what looked to be about 20. Kids are offered dough to shape and mold, which the kitchen will fire up on request.
ATMOSPHERE: Slick. Wood tables, metal accents, concrete floors. Surfaces are natural, but easy-clean, and the din was moderate with even a few customers in the building. Of course, all those things make bringing a pizza-throwing toddler in need of a nap a little less stressful. Two stories make this an expansive restaurant. I liked the second-story perch with a view of street life. If you sit up real tall, you can catch a glimpse of the waterfront.
ACCESS: Tricky for diners getting up the stairs to the second floor, but no other barriers noticed.
WOOD OVEN: It’s downstairs in the kitchen. I saw wood. It’s for real, not show. It’s fueled by almond and apple woods.
PIZZA SATURATION? You’d think we’d already hit maximum pizza density along Pacific Avenue and ancillary neighborhoods. Within a few-mile stretch on/near Pacific into the Stadium neighborhood, find Rock Wood Fired Pizza, Abella Pizzeria, Harmon Brewery, Paesan, Cafe Vincero, The Hub and Art House Cafe. So, Tacoma. You love pizza. We get it.
ELEMENTAL PIZZA TACOMA
1702 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-4000 or elementalpizza.com/tacoma
Serving: Lunch and dinner