There are times you just want to sink your jaws into a hefty slice of pizza, feeling the rich cheesiness in your mouth and the satisfying comfort that comes with a decadent slice of good old Italian food. In Bellingham, there are options aplenty for unique, gourmet pizza, so before you reach for the usual fast-food culprits, consider the alternatives. Here are some top picks:
Ovn Food Fired Pizza
Matt Brawner’s wood-fired oven from Naples, Italy was forklifted into the new building long before the windows were put in at OvN, the Neapolitan-style pizzeria in Bellingham’s Fairhaven district. The restaurant opened in August 2015 and Brawner and his pizza team have elevated pizza making into an art form. “I’m a serious pizza maker,” the 32-year-old admits earnestly. “But I’m not doing everything 100 percent Neapolitan so to be honest, I say we’re Neapolitan inspired. We’re also the only ones doing this particular kind of pizza.”
What is Neapolitan style pizza, you ask? It’s simple pizza full of flavor, innovative toppings and hearty ingredients. But it’s not fancy or pretentious, and that earthy style is reflected in the 65-seat restaurant, which is rustic yet elegant, with simple wood tables and clean Scandinavian design. “Our oven actually inspires the aesthetic,” Brawner said. “We were aiming for clean, modern, smooth and minimalist.”
To save money he and his sous-chef used reclaimed wood for the tables and refinished them, crafting the bar tables, putting in the marble counters and building the enclosures for apple wood, which is used to feed the wood-fired oven every 20 minutes.
In the kitchen Brawner is just as meticulous about attention-to-detail. “Everything we’re dealing with is living, organic processes,” he explained as he made a margherita pizza. “For example, we keep a yeast culture alive for our natural unleavened dough, and we’re making it nine-to-ten hours a day. We get the potential for really good texture and flavor from this dough.” Mozarella curd is brought in from Wisconsin, flour all the way from Naples and tomato sauce? None at OvN. “We use whole crushed tomatoes instead – but most of our pizzas have a non-tomato base.”
I was in seventh heaven when the Margherita ($12.95) touched my lips and my resolution to try just one slice quickly disappeared under the heady temptation of this thin crust with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil.
Such simple ingredients, and yet made by Brawner’s careful hand, transformed into such a decadently delicious experience.
OvN’s pizzas are reasonably priced between $12.95 and $15.95 and come with some yummy toppings. There’s the Paolo, with pistachios, Parmigiano, mozzarella and arugula, and the Wallis with a basil-pistachio pesto. The Yukon sounded amazing with roasted garlic, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella, bacon and sour cream, while Forage, with caramelized onions, asiago, mozzarella, crimini mushrooms and thyme, was calling my name loudly.
OvN’s pizzas are moderately sized and designed as one person, one pizza. The front patio should be opening this summer, making it a great stopover before or after a walk from Fairhaven to Boulevard Park. Disband your ideas of ‘normal’ pizza and come to OvN ready to tantalize your taste buds with everything gourmet a pizza can be.
- 1148 10th Street, Bellingham
- (360) 393-4327
Fat Pie Pizza
Not far from OvN in Fairhaven you’ll find an entirely different kinda pizza. The Fat Pie kind. Open a year-and-a-half, this pizzeria features Chicago and Detroit-style crusts. The Chicago pies are round with a quiche-like appearance and a cakey base of flaky cornmeal, while the Detroit style is rectangular with a crispier crust.
It’s great that pizzerias have begun actively encouraging diners to craft their own pizzas and at Far Pie you choose your crust and then a selection of 12 ingredient combinations. If you’re not a fan of the prescribed combos, have no fear. Just build your own pizza from individually priced seafood, meat and vegetable options. A word to the wise: don’t over-order, a general tendency among the famished.
We chose a regular size Lake Erie, Detroit-style pizza, loving its roasted tomato confit, artichoke hearts, spinach, chevre and mozzarella. It was easily sufficient food for two or three diners but we also tried the Lakeshore Drive pizza with mushrooms, red onion, roasted garlic, cauliflower, gorgonzola and mozzarella. We took half of each home to enjoy later. Carnivores will love the Smokin’ Joe Louis, with pulled pork, linguica, bacon, caramelized onion and house-made barbeque sauce. The ambience here is festive, young and vibey and the pizzas will offer all the comfort that comfort food can deliver.
- 1015 Harris Avenue, Bellingham
- (360) 366-8090
More Pizza Options County-wide
- C Shop – 4825 Alderson Road, Birch Bay, 360-371-2070
- Fairhaven Pizza – 1307 11th Street, Bellingham
- McKay’s TapHouse & Pizzeria -1118 E Maple Street, Bellingham, 360-647-3600
- Rudy’s Pizza -1232 North State Street, Bellingham, 360-647-7547
- Pizza Factory Blaine – 738 Peace Portal Drive, Blaine, 360-332-3636
- North Fork Brewery & Pizzeria – 6186 Mt. Baker Highway, Deming, 360-599-2337
- Chair 9 Woodstone Pizza & Bar – 10459 Mt. Baker Highway, Glacier, 360-599-2511
- NYP Bar & Grill – 8874 Bender Road Suite 101, Lynden, 360-318-0580
- Milt’s Pizza Place – 8122 Guide Meridian Rd, Lynden, 360-354-7499