April 16, 2009

Belltown Welcomes Via Tribunali

Alley%20behind%20the%20Croc.JPG Via%20Tribunali%20Belltown.JPG

Seattle's emperor of pizza (and sultan of coffee), Mike McConnell, unveiled the fifth Via Tribunali outpost last night in the space at the back of the refurbished Crocodile.

If you're not going to the Croc for a show, you enter through the alley between 2nd and 3rd. In the far corner, Tribunali's signature oven, this one a deep red, built by a team of masons from Naples who used bricks made from Vesuvian ash. The pizzas are Neapolitan-style thin crust, quick-cooked in a blazing hot, wood-fired oven with a limited set of toppings and a relatively light hand on the cheese. A pizza, Italians will tell you--even as they argue over stylistic details--is not an all-you-can-eat buffet.

It's been a busy couple of years for McConnell, who started with a single Caffè Vita store on Capitol Hill. He's expanded the coffee business to five stores and wholesale distribution; partnered with local entrepreneurs (Theo Chocolate, OnePot, Neumo's, among many), and branched out into the restaurant biz (the Via Tribunali chain, Pike Street Fish Fry, Cremant), almost always restoring underused urban spaces for his projects.

The reclaimed Belltown space features lofty chandeliers, high-back booths and a dark mahogany bar; there's even an antique Italian foosball table, an authentic bigliardino , on loan from Corino Bonjrada, owner of Mondello in Magnolia. (Corino's Sicilian mamma, Enza Sorrentino of Sorrentino Trattoria & Pizzeria on Queen Anne, supplies Tribunali with her ethereal lasagna.) McConnell isn't afraid to share the credit; he's got admirers all over town.

Via Tribunali Belltown at The Crocodile, 2200 2nd Avenue, 206-441-4618 Via Tribunali on Urbanspoon

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Posted by Ronald Holden at April 16, 2009 9:21 AM | TrackBack

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