Pizza Parlor Friday Holler: Queen Margherita
National Pizza Month may officially be in October, but with professional football playoffs about to begin, I’m moving it to January. [ETA: Actually, I just learned that the second full week of January is National Pizza Week. How convenient!]
I’ve tackled Queen Anne area burgers before, and now it’s time to search for some pizza within easy reach of the hill. I’ll feature one place each Friday of the month, looking for a little variety.
Eating excursions rarely take me west of Queen Anne, but when I heard good things about Queen Margherita in Magnolia, I had to give it a try. Margherita of Savoy served as Italy’s queen from 1878 to 1900, and legend has it that the Margherita pizza–made with red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese (in honor of the Italian flag)–was named after her in 1889. Since fall 2010, she’s had this hidden gem named after her as well.
Queen Margherita is the type of neighborhood restaurant where it seems everybody knows your name. Visit more than once, and I’m sure owner Corino Bonjrada will take notice of you. When he’s not working the dining area and helping with service, he’s watching with pride as Devin Dukes prepares pizzas. These Neapolitan-style pies are made with Caputo Tipo 00 flour (silky smooth) from Italy, with the dough aged several days to ferment and develop the gluten. The pies go into a wood-fired oven (made in Naples) that reaches temperatures up to 1200 degrees, spending just 45 to 80 seconds to cook.
The pizzas are delicious. Neapolitan style means they are a slightly soft in the middle, with crisp crusts that have nice air bubbles. There are many pizza options on the menu, from the namesake Queen Margherita (great with Buffalo mozzarella) to the Puttanesca (briny and spicy) to the intriguing Dattero (with dates, gorgonzola, prosciutto crudo, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction). As Bonjrada told me, pizza is “the most amazing and yet simple thing.”
See the photo gallery for shots of the pizza–including a special dessert pizza–along with some side dishes and a glimpse of the pizza-making.