Friday, April 15, 2011

Restaurant Review: Delancey

I asked Jon to take me to Delancey in Ballard for my birthday.  We went for our 10 month anniversary last year and absolutely loved it, so I thought it was time we went back for tasty, crispy, healthy, thin-crust, wood-fired pizza.

Romaine, cabbage and homemade Italian dressing
If you are an avid reader of Orangette like I am, then you probably know that Delancey is owned by Brandon Pettit, husband of the blog's writer, Molly Wizenberg.  I've been reading Molly's blog for over four years now, and have fallen in love with her writing style, grace and remarkable taste in food. 

[Aside: Seattle reminds me of Los Angeles, except instead of movie stars we have food bloggers.  I went to my vet with Peekay last November, and in walked Molly, Brandon and their Jack Russell terrier.  Crazy!  A similar thing happened when I was heading up to my apartment on Capitol Hill and walked right past Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl, who was with her husband and daughter.  I remember thinking, in both cases, How is it possible that I'm recognizing a blogger on the streetHow on earth is it possible that I'm actually star struck right now?!  This 'Era of the Blog' is pretty crazy.]

Anyway, it was around the time I moved to Seattle over two years ago when Molly announced that Brandon was opening a restaurant.  It was also around this time that I was unemployed, poor-beyond-reason, and living in a city without any friends... which meant that going to Delancey, once it finally opened, would have to wait.  Judge me all you want, but I simply don't enjoy eating out alone.  As far as I'm concerned, if I eat a great meal by myself it's as though it didn't happen at all; I need someone to share it with.

Delancey opened with great success, due in no small part to Molly's devoted readers.  In all honesty, I would never have started reading reviews of the restaurant if it weren't for the fact that their prices for a pie were a little on the steep side... I had no problem with the idea of paying $15, but if I were going to get any of my friends to go with me and pay for themselves, I was going to have to be pretty confident about how good it was going to be.

Reading reviews can be so frustrating.  If something is popular, and you are reading reviews about it, take what you read with a grain of salt.  When people go somewhere and have unreasonably high standards, they can be nothing but disappointed.  As though it's the restaurant's fault that everyone and their mother wants to go there, and therefore on a Friday night you can wait up to 2 hours for a seat.

If they were smart, they go at 5PM on a Wednesday when the restaurant opens like Jon and I have both times.  Not only were we seated immediately, but we were drinking our wine and eating our salad within 15 minutes.

Delancey at 5:45PM on a Wednesday evening

People should plan accordingly and stop complaining about the wait.  Nothing bothers me more than when people give themselves over to hype.  There's nothing wrong with taking recommendations and then being disappointed, but judging something completely based on its mass appeal or public reception... it doesn't make any sense.

Crimini mushroom pizza, with olive oil, pepperoni and onion
So here's the deal with Delancey.  Brandon makes absolutely spectacular thin-crust pizza.  It's crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.  The ingredients are fresh, local and contain delicious flavor.  No pizza is dripping with sauce, or smothered in cheese, or collapsing with toppings.  Like all of the best food, everything is balanced.

The idea behind Delancey, as Molly has said, is that they wanted to open a restaurant that was like an extension of their own kitchen.  And that's exactly what it feels like.  You aren't eating the pizza or salads or desserts of a master chef... You are eating the food of a friend who loves to cook, and knows what they're doing in the kitchen.  What could be better than that?

I have two favorite restaurants in Seattle: Delancey and Oddfellows.  Both have the same sort of "communal" feel, as though you are getting food on a Sunday morning in your best friend's house.  The food is simple, but also the best of ingredients.

The world's best chocolate chip cookie, with sea salt on top
If you ever find yourself in Seattle on a weekday, go to Delancey.  This is the perfect place for 4 friends to go and get some wine, 2 salads, 2 pizzas, and 4 chocolate chip cookies.  The salads are HUGE, and one pizza is more than enough for 2 people to share.  Jon and I made that mistake during our first visit - a salad, a pizza, and a dessert each!  We were exploding with food!

The staff there is also incredibly nice and attentive.  When they're busy, I'm sure it's harder to ensure every person's water is full, but they're sweet and treated us like friends.  Talk to your server (anywhere you go), because you'll know how good the food is by how the wait-staff talks about what's on the menu.  If they're excited about something, listen.  Life is short - take recommendations.

I wish more people would enjoy the simplicity of things.  Expensive does not have to equal "gourmet".  You may not think paying $4 for one heirloom tomato would be worth it, but unless you've tasted a Billy's tomato with an open mind, you probably couldn't know that the best quality food is worth almost any price.

Anyway.  That's enough of this review and my ranting.  I love Delancey, and I can't wait to go back many more times before leaving Seattle to taste all of their seasonal specialties.

Happy Friday, friends.  And happy eating.

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