If you’re like me, you think of La Fiamma when you want a wood-fire pizza with creative toppings like figs, curry-roasted veggies, pulled pork and smoked salmon. Or on nice days, when you want to eat and drink outside in downtown Bellingham (Fiamma has a large deck with HEATERS). Or, when you want a frosty beer or well-curated glass of wine with one of their pasta dishes, paninis or delish Sudden Valley Ranch salads. Seems there is always a great reason to stop into La Fiamma, but I’m about to give you one more: fabulous cocktails.
Because we’re talking about La Fiamma, where they clearly care about the ingredients that go into the food they serve, it stands to reason that their tonic and ginger beer would be housemade—but it’s not something you’d expect from a pizza joint, am I right? The tonic is made with Peruvian red chinchona bark, lemon, lime and bitter orange peel, lemongrass, cardamom and secret spices. And each gallon of the ginger beer contains more than a pound of fresh ginger.
We had great difficulty choosing from the cocktail menu, which ranged from the simple booze-of-your-choice + tonic, to a Pimm’s Cup, Moscow Mule and a whole bunch of crafty gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila and rum drinks that someone (not I, unfortunately) had big fun taste-testing. For our first round, we decided on a ginger beer drink and something from the tequila menu, and soon a delightful Moscow Mule and Paloma appeared before our eyes.
That’s the MM on the left, above. As you can see, it’s not served in the traditional copper mug, which saddened me a bit, until I tasted it. Then all disappointment disappeared in a tasty mouth bomb of ginger and lime. It’s now my favorite Moscow Mule in town, I daresay, because the ginger beer (which makes or breaks a MM) was over-the top delicious—and not too sweet. My, oh my, what a tasty beverage!
The Paloma was made with fresh grapefruit juice (a plus) and tequila, plus lime juice and simple syrup, and topped with a bit of grapefruit Perrier (also a plus). Refreshingly good. Both drinks went down a bit too easily.
And then the pizza arrived! We went for the special Fig & Pig, which had figs, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, arugula, almonds and basil on top, with balsamic syrup drizzled over. It was sublime (especially about five hours later, when I found a leftover piece).
For our second round of drinks, we considered a slushy, which were offered that evening in watermelon-rhubarb or orange creamsicle. They can be alcohol-free, of course, but this is a cocktail blog, so that wouldn’t be my choice. I was thinking orange creamsicle with rum, but then my eyes veered over to the cocktail menu for another perusal and the slushy idea died.
I narrowed my choice down between the Raspberry Rose Gin Rickey and the Rosemary Lemon Drop. The latter is made with Fiamma’s famous (for real) rosemary lemonade and vodka, but the former won this round, because of one ingredient: St. Germain. I love the flowery, herby flavor it oh-so-delicately imparts to a drink. The RRGR also contained Bombay dry gin, raspberry, rosewater, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. It was a nice balance of herbal, tart and slightly sweet flavors. So good! And how often do you get to try rosewater and St. Germain together? Trust me on this one—it’s fab.
My dining companion was attracted to the whiskey drinks menu, and the Tommy Gun (above, right), a combination of Buffalo Trace, apricot preserves, Cointreau and lemon juice, topped with that ginger beer I mentioned above. It was a great drink for a chilly, downpouring Friday evening in August.
La Fiamma’s cocktail menu boasts no fewer than 30 concoctions, and if they are all as good as the four we tasted, you will be happy with whatever you choose. I already have my next several picked out. In fact, I’m dreaming of a sunny afternoon on the deck, drinking a Ginger IPA Shandy (IPA and ginger beer), which I must make happen before summer slips away.
So, what if you’re not into cocktails with your pizza? No problem! La Fiamma has a really nice wine list, with thoughtful selections in reds (Malbec, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Nero D’Avola and Cab) and whites (Chardonnay, Pino Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc), as well as a rosé. Mondavi makes the house red and white, which are offered at just $4.95 per glass, or $11.95 for a half carafe (500 ml.). And of course, there is always a tasty beer selection on tap, including a very special one, brewed just down the street at Boundary Bay Brewery.
Barb’s Beer is made and served in memory of Barbara Murphy, a Bellingham runner, interior designer and Boundary Bay beer lover. Her husband started the Barb’s Beer Foundation after she died of non-smoker’s lung cancer, and La Fiamma was the first local restaurant to pour Barb’s Beer. Learn more about this inspiring story in this King5 news story or here in Pizza Today.
Since 1998, La Fiamma has been a downtown Bellingham mainstay, right on the corner of Railroad and Chestnut St. It’s a great spot for date night, a family pizza outing, or getting together with friends for lunch or dinner. And for gluten-free eaters, you’ll be glad to know they have a great (from what I hear) gluten-free crust available. And now that you know about the fantastic cocktails they’re serving up, you know what to do! See you there.
La Fiamma Wood-Fire Pizza, 200 E. Chestnut St., Bellingham, WA 98225
Monday — Thursday 11:00 a.m. — 10:00 p.m.
Friday — Saturday 11:00 a.m. — 10:30 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 p.m. — 10:00 p.m.
Pye Hole, the walk-up pizza slice window, is open Thursday — Saturday from 11:00 p.m. until the last late-night pizza craver is served—or the pies run out. Big cheese slices are only $3.00! And they are perfecto. (I’ve been there many, many times, seeking and finding the perfect late-night sustenance.)