Ethan Stowell is trying to go downscale with The Ballard Pizza Company, but a star chef can only go so low. He’s got the slice-and-a-soda thing going at the rustically chic shop, but the soda ($4, gourmet) costs more than the slice ($3–$3.50, huge). And the knockout star of our meal had nothing to do with New Yawk–style crusts or budget meals; it was the $8 tart-sweet salad of chickpeas, celery, parsley and wine-plumped golden sultanas.
It’s unusual, but we’ve no complaints with Stowell’s first venture in his empire’s casual Grubb Brothers business line. The thin-crust pizza is good at a level well above its pay grade—well seasoned, neither too oily nor too crisp. The row of generous “fat slice” daily options ($3.50) measure a sixth of a pie, perfect for scarfing while standing at the butcher-block tables. Staffers are helpful with what could otherwise be a confusing setup. (At night, the table-service banquettes are reserved for those ordering whole pies; it’s fine to sit there at lunch.) Overall, the place is like the well-behaved oldest child of Pagliacci and Delancey, a union that’s incongruous but worthy of applause.
Lunch, dinner daily. Ballard, 5107 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.659.6033; ballardpizzacompany.com $