Brothers Aaron Crosleycone and Adam Cone first made their mark on the pizza scene in the 1990s, during Seattle's grunge era, and Belltown was World Pizza's neighborhood. Fifteen years later, they resurfaced at a tiny shop in the I.D. Last year, they found the dough recipe hidden in the back of an old notebook and fired up the Vulcan ovens and returned to pizza making.
You're brothers, and you have a long pizza history in Seattle.
Aaron, 40: Yes, we opened World Pizza at the corner of 2nd and Lenora in 1992. We were there for four years.
Adam, 43: But restaurants are like dog years, so it felt like 28.
Aaron: We were on a month to month lease, and it had a demolition clause.
Adam: So when the landlord tore down the building in 1996, we were out of business.
And now you're back!
Aaron: We like to say we were abducted by aliens, and they just dropped us off 15 years later.
Seriously, what did you do in the interim?
Adam: I'm a painter and print maker by training, but I'd worked in bakeries to put myself through school, so I guess I'm now a professional baker, too. I've been running two bakeries on Vashon Island.
Aaron: I got into antiques and the professional appraisal business. I have an office just down the street.
And you're in Chinatown! How weird is that?
Aaron: We didn't want to get booted out again, and the entire International District is landmarked. We love it here, it's an eclectic neighborhood.
Adam: And we're older now.
Aaron: We have this vent to the outside, and it catches people off-guard when they smell “Italian.”
And how did you find this space?
Aaron: When we decided to reopen World Pizza, it took us a year to find this space. A long time ago it was a gift store. Then it was a gallery space for the artist next door.
Adam: We spent a lot of time waiting for the change-of-use permit to go through, but we did the buildout in under two months.
What was the best part about reopening?
Adam: We'd kept the two slate-floor Vulcan pizza ovens from our Belltown days. We took them out of storage, and it was great to fire them up again! They're so old, it was tough finding a new thermostat, because there's only five like this left in the US.
Aaron: Adam found our original dough recipe in the back of an old book somewhere. It calls for a two-hour rise, but we use what's called an “old dough” starter.
Adam: The flour is high-gluten from Pendleton Mills. We make dough twice a day, 9 in the morning, and again in the afternoon.
Do you bake at the super-hot VPN method?
Adam: No, nothing like that at all. We bake at 450 degrees. And we'll often pre-bake the crust, maybe 3 or 4 minutes, before we put on the sauces. We use a whole milk American mozzarella that bakes up nice and dark.
Aaron: Our pizzas are like highlights from the 80s.
You've got one size, a 16-inch pizza.
Aaron: Fifteen dollars for the basic tomato sauce and mozzarella, or two-fifty a slice, eight slices per pie. Extra toppings for two-fifty.
Adam: Everything here is vegetarian. I just feel it's more respectful to the animals. Not that I would mind a slice of prosciutto, but we use Field Roast for the vegetarian pepperoni.
What's the most popular?
Adam: That's the potato pizza, roasted red potatoes with garlic, rosemary and Gorgonzola. It's $20.
You guys must feel like you've been given a second lease on life.
Aaron: There's a lot of recycled stuff, like the sidewalk A-frame we had in Belltown. Now it's on the wall. We treat the store like an art project.
Adam: That orange couch against the wall, it used to be in the lobby of the Space Needle. When we were in Belltown, Tom Douglas used to sit there and do his paperwork.
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