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See John Sundstrom's Knockout Pizzeria, Southpaw

It opens today at 11 a.m. on Capitol Hill

Award-winning restaurateur John Sundstrom has finished converting his original Lark space on Capitol Hill's 12th Avenue into a casual, counter-service pizzeria called Southpaw. The new venture opens today at 11 a.m.

The term southpaw means "left-handed," particularly in reference to boxers, and influences both the boxing-themed decor and the pizza names. It also suggests that the restaurant will be thinking outside of the box for its pies, which will fall somewhere between Neapolitan- and New York-style. Expect some familiar toppings and some more unusual options, like padrón peppers and red wine-braised oxtail.

Even if you ate in the space when it was still Lark, very little will feel familiar, as you can see in the photos above. The space has light-wood tables but otherwise darker tones than the once-bright Lark employed. There's seating for 49 at a mix of tables, booths, and window bar seats.

As for the food, Sundstrom's wood-fired pizzas are constructed of a wheat blend custom-milled by Smalls Family Farms in Walla Walla. You can purchase pizzas as 16-inch whole pies or as quarters when available. Toppings are mostly vegetarian, with optional meat add-ons. The initial line-up includes these boxing-themed pies:

Uppercut: Bianco DiNapoli organic tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, Grana Padano

On the Ropes: padrone peppers, cotija, chorizo, Alvarez guajillo pepper, tomato

Title Fight: wild mushrooms, lardo, roasted garlic, thyme, arugula

Contender: green chickpea pesto, feta cheese, za’atar, roasted garlic, cumin

Add-ons include guanciale, anchovy, crispy chicken skin, burrata, fennel sausage, and a fried egg.

Apart from pizza, the restaurant will also serve "garden" items like romanesco bagna cauda with pine nuts, roasted potatoes with chile butter and ‘nduja, sugar pie pumpkin salad with pecans, blue cheese, dates and sherry vinegar, and a local greens salad with candy striped beets, arugula, mint, and smoked pine nut tahini. Much of the produce comes from Lark’s rooftop garden. There is also a rotating selection of cheese and charcuterie.

For dessert, there are salted chocolate chip cookies, zeppole with blackberry jam, and soft serve in two flavors: one "adventurous" and one standard, designed to be complementary for a swirl option. All drinks are on tap: red wine, white wine, two beers, three cocktails, one shrub, and one soda to start, with more options coming soon.

926 12th Avenue, (206) 323-5278, website. Open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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