I spent six days in Italy during the winter of 2000 with a group of friends. As high school students, we couldn't afford much other than the food offered by street vendors. Our diet for the adventure consisted mostly of gelato and pizza. The pizza was strange but good: completely flat with a layer of oil on the surface. If I remember anything distinctly about Italy, it was the pizza.
The delicacy has become so commercialized that it's easy to tell the difference between the kind best suited for gobbling up after a night of drinking, and the kind worth leaving your home for.
Located near the corner of Sixth and Main streets, The Front Door Northwest Pizza & Taphouse serves what any American with hunger pangs needs at least once a week: pizza and beer. Though the food selection may be limited, the variety of ales and spirits is enough to make anyone with a penchant for quality alcoholic beverages jump for joy. The Front Door's impressive list of Belgian ales includes names I've never heard before: Kwak, Urthel Hop-It!, Duvel and Kasteel Brown are all tough to be remember, but are really quite good. The list of beers lives up to the menu's statement, "You should never be bored by a beer selection."
The size of The Front Door is about that of an average coffee shop or perhaps even smaller, and cozy. The red brick walls, which assist in giving the place an authentic pizzeria feel, are covered in framed black-and-white photos from the old days of Prohibition, including a photograph of men holding signs that read "We Want Beer."
I was hoping to walk into the petite restaurant with the aroma of fresh-made pizza dancing through the air, but I was disappointed only slightly until a menu arrived.
The Front Door's pizzas range in size from personal (7 inches), to large (16 inches), to huge (18 inches). As I was new to the restaurant, I managed to control the glutton within and chose a personal-size Sauce and Mutz pizza with tomato sauce, whole milk mozzarella, grana padano and fresh basil ($4) with a Caesar salad ($1).
Other pizzas include the Boss, topped with double-cut pepperoni, mozzarella, grana padano and fresh basil; and the Don Kahuna with applewood bacon, kurobuta ham, pineapple, mozzarella and grana padano.
Though the list of whiskeys and bourbons offered is quite impressive, I would have liked to have seen a better wine list--only two lonely reds and four whites. For dessert, The Front Door offers Tawny Port and Sherry--not exactly my idea of dessert, but well-suited for someone more sophisticated than me.
My Caesar came to me quickly, adorned with the perfunctory lemon wedge--not bad for a $1 salad--and it wasn't drowning in dressing. Within minutes, the pizza arrived, piping hot. The ends were slightly burnt, though it didn't bother me as I'm not much of a crust fan anyway.
The total of my bill came to $8.30 including tip, and I left with my wallet and stomach at ease. The Front Door is a must for any downtowner on a lunch break, and it is also definitely worth leaving the house for.
--As a child, Taylor Newbold was thrown into a pizza oven by a witch.