Jim Anderson
Ballard's newest pizzeria Delancey, at 1415 N.W. 70th St., is a delight.

Ballard Food Police: Delancey is the prettiest pizza parlor in Ballard

1415 N.W. 70th St., 838-1960
Wednesday - Sunday 5 - 10 p.m.

Delancey's pizza is a labor of love chronicled on the owner's, Molly Wizenberg, award-winning food blog, Orangette.

For several weeks they've been inventing, conceiving, tweaking, experimenting, adding, subtracting and polishing. Intriguing from the beginning, Delancey continues to fascinate us.

Local ingredients are key here, and they know the guys who grind their flour (Shepherd's Grain, an alliance of Pacific Northwest farmers).

Most among us have a personal relationship with pizza. The Ballard Food Police remember our first taste -- at Shakey's in Salem, Ore. The crisp crust, the flavor of the tomato sauce (with spices mom didn't use at home) combined with melted cheese, the novelty of pepperoni -- heavenly.

We argued with other sixth graders on the playground about which pizza was better, Shakey's or Pietro's across town. Shakey's had a medieval feel, with rough hewn benches and tables, dark lighting. Adults on one side, kids on the other, a pizza viewing station in the middle. Could there be a more perfect Friday night?

On the other hand, Pietro's was like a precursor of Chuck E. Cheese with a bright color scheme, organ music, packs of wild children.

We're not sure whose fantasy Delancey fills, but it's the prettiest new pizza parlor in Ballard.

Minimalist design takes advantage of the two old combined storefronts. The bar/waiting area is nicely arranged, although a few more seats for waiting would be appreciated, and maybe a row of chairs outside, since there are no reservations for parties under six and the average wait is one hour.

Small jar-like light fixtures hang over the bar, which seats about five, and the brick oven is a prominent feature of the room. The new cement floor complements the white clean white walls with a few art pieces hung throughout the restaurant.

The modern decor continues in the dining room, with bigger versions of the hanging glass light fixtures. Small flower vases and candles adorn the tables, and the chairs are surprisingly comfortable. It gets a bit stuffy in the back of the room, and perhaps better ventilation can be added. We might also take out a couple of tables so it wouldn't be so crowded.

The hostess, who may have the hardest job of all, has a friendly greeting for each customer, remaining calm and professional in the hectic storm. We've heard that arriving when the restaurant opens at 5 p.m. is a good way to get in faster.

We thought about hiding in the bathroom until the next day to get the first seat, but quickly abandoned the plan, noting that there is only one bathroom. There's plenty of time to peruse the menu while waiting, and wine is served. They will also take the pending diner's cell phone number and call when a table is ready.

So what about that pizza? Handcrafted and wood-fired, these are delicate works of art. Toppings are not layered on Pietro's-style, but instead are integrated into the moist, chewy, crispy crust.

Pizzas have the slightly smoky taste of the wood-fired oven they just came out of. Pork fennel sausage is made in-house, and it's just the thing for the Sausage Pizza ($15) with tomato sauce, smoked and fresh mozzarella and basil.

Subtlety rules these pizzas, and everything on the crust is chosen with care. The Porcini Pizza ($18) with fresh mozzarella, thyme and olive oil lives up to all expectations. A pizza can be shared, but we recommend one for each person, because it's good for breakfast, too.

A salad of Baby Lettuce ($8), served with a champagne-kissed vinaigrette, sports a much appreciated light hand on the dressing. A mound of fresh mozzarella-like Burrata ($9) comes with toasted baguette slices and is another way to induce the festivities.

Don't miss the cucumber pickles ($8). Four to a plate, these are crunchy, pristine, and not at all like anything sold in a jar. Pickled onions accompany the lively little fellas, and pickled red and yellow peppers ($6) were also available the night we visited.

While the menu is simple (salad and pizza), seasonal items do come and go.

The Bittersweet chocolate chip cookie with salt ($3.50) is a house specialty, and the Plum Crumble with housemade creme fraiche ($6) is what's in season for desert. We didn't try the desserts as we were too busy stuffing pizza into our mouths, but we sensed enjoyment all around us.

Delancey may not be a place to get a quick slice (no take-out) or a place to spend a relaxing evening, in spite of the grownup decor (children are welcome). It's not a Brooklyn Pizzeria, and it's not cheap.

But to those who wondered, can Ballard really support yet another pizza place? The answer is yes, when it's pizza like this. Welcome, Delancey.

The Ballard Food Police visit all establishments anonymously and pay for all food and drink in full. Know anything we should know? Tell the Ballard Food Police at ballardfoodpolice@gmail.com.

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