Hey fresh herb lovers, I’ve got a new place for you.
Zeeks Pizza in downtown Tacoma.
Fresh herbs and pizza long have been a thing. Plenty of pizza joints finish pies with fresh-cut basil or cilantro, but Zeeks takes its herbs up a level.
A third of the 28 specialty pizzas at Zeeks are finished, right out of the oven, with fresh-cut basil or cilantro. That doesn’t count the pies with the fresh arugula, fresh jalapenos or fresh garlic.
I happen to be firmly in Camp Fresh Herbs, so my inaugural visit explored those herby pies. Also, I noticed something else. Zeeks is a great new find for vegetarians.
Michael Goronkin, the franchisee for newly opened Zeeks Pizza in downtown Tacoma, said he’s noticed quite a few locals ordering vegetarian pies since the location opened Aug. 27 in the former home of Elemental Pizza.
Maybe that’s because it has a list of 25 vegetable toppings, and they’re not boring.There’s the usual veggie suspects, but also garbanzo beans, broccoli, bean sprouts, three kinds of tomatoes (sliced, diced or sundried), marinated beets, carrots (!) and, of course, fresh basil, cilantro or arugula.
Don’t worry meat eaters, you’re covered. Zeeks has multiple pork products, four kinds of chicken and something I have a hard time finding — anchovies.
Here’s a first-bite look at the Tacoma Zeeks. It’s this paper’s policy to skip criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Background: This is a first Pierce County location for Zeeks, which was founded in Seattle and has since franchised. Goronkin will run the Tacoma Zeeks with Tom Matzelle and Dan Anderson of Barking Dog Alehouse in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
Dining room: Save for a swap of the ovens — Elemental cooked its pies in a wood-fired oven and Zeeks uses deck ovens — the restaurant and its two-story dining room look exactly the same all the way down to the patio.
Group dining: Banquet room for up to 20 diners with no ordering minimum or booking fee, although a credit card is a must to reserve.
The menu: 28 specialty pies in three sizes — mini 7-inch pizzas ($9.80 to $16.10), 12-inch mediums ($16.90 to $28.60) and 16-inch large pies ($21.70 to $37.90). Build-your-own pies start from $9.10 to $19.90. Also, four flavors of breadsticks ($10 to $13), seven salads ($7 to $15) and three flavors of wings ($13).
Specialty pies: Ranging from simple pesto, tomato and parmesan-mozzarella ($11.20/$19.50/$25.30) to the ultra complicated Kitchen Sink with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, chicken, bacon, mushroom, black olive, green pepper, tomato, fresh garlic ($16.10/$28.60/$37.90).
Gluten free: Medium sized upgrade for $3.70.
Lunch specials: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. has $4 slices, $7 mini pizzas and deals such as a slice and a half salad for $10.50.
Adult beverages: Two beer cocktails (get the Tropic Thunder, $9), full cocktail menu, wine, cider, 16 craft beer taps with South Sound representation from Engine House No. 9, Narrows Brewing, Wingman and Wet Coast.
Scoops, too: Ice cream comes from Seattle’s Full Tilt Ice Cream. Served in cone or cup.
Try the: On a first visit, don’t miss the Spanish Steps, one of those pies with fresh herbs I mentioned with a finish of fresh-chopped basil over a pie with roasted red peppers, Italian sausage and gorgonzola ($11.90/$20.80/$27.10). Snappy fresh jalapenos were hidden spice bombs underneath the field of fresh-chopped cilantro on the Buffalo Soldier ($12.60/$22.10/$28.90). That flavor bomb also included buffalo chicken, Mama Lil’s peppers, gorgonzola and a side of blue cheese dressing.
Grand opening alert: All day Saturday (Sept. 15), the restaurant will celebrate its opening. Check out several fresh-hopped beers from local breweries such as Puyallup River Brewing. All fresh-hopped beers should be up and kegged by 3 p.m.