BURIEN — Burien Pizzeria is the best kind of Friday-night place for families, introverts and friends who appreciate low noise levels. Opened by Dan House of the Tin Room Bar & Theater and Frank Ricci of 909 Coffee & Wine and The 913, this is not the place for your going-out top. However, if you just got off work and are too tired to cook but not too tired to meet a friend for dinner, this pizza joint in old-town Burien will win you over with its vibe of quiet excellence.
If your ideal Friday night is more “Gilmore Girls”-wholesome than rideshare-congested and shouty — or if you’re just kind of over the entire Pike/Pine corridor on Capitol Hill — Burien can be a charming alternative to the crowded nightlife zones of Seattle, and the area around Burien Pizzeria is a testament to this. The excitement extends to a stationery store and a wine shop in an atmosphere that’s largely convivial in a sedate, neighborhood-y kind of way.
After a dark drive down Highway 99 (parking was easy), my dining companion and I got a table by the window (wait time: zero minutes) and proceeded to have the most pleasant evening possible, starting with Aperol spritzes ($10). The Aperol spritz may be a source of controversy, but it’s honestly all I want to drink if I’m eating pizza or pasta, and the one at Burien Pizzeria is refreshing and not too sweet — they’ll even make you a low-booze version if you’re driving home.
Wood-fired pizza is easy to find around Seattle, but the pies at Burien Pizzeria stand out. The dough is made fresh from scratch every day, becoming pizza crust that’s just as pillow-chewy as you’d like it to be. I would probably eat this stuff plain, but don’t do that, because you’ll miss out on the Salumi pizza, which is less of a pizza than a study in perfectly complementary flavors, with Mama Lil’s sweet chilies, grana, garlic cream, smoked mozzarella and hot coppa ($17.95) all coalescing into a satisfying meal that’s big enough for two people. Seattle can be disappointingly spice-averse, but I am pleased to report that the hot coppa lives up to its name.
Elaine Benes-style “big salad” devotees will appreciate the greener side of Burien Pizzeria’s menu. After all, what is the point of a salad if it doesn’t have something crunchy or protein-y among the leaves? Here, you’ll have a slew of options, and you’ll find a good side to any of the pizzas in The Rocket Salad, with arugula, pecorino, heart croutons and a honey-lemon vinaigrette ($8). If you find salad-eating to be a joyless, flavorless chore performed only because “leafy greens” are “good for you” (*raises hand*), The Rocket Salad will show you that it doesn’t have to be that way. A cheese-dusted salad is a key to my heart, and this one does not disappoint.
But enough about things that are good for you — I’d be utterly remiss if I did not mention the meatballs. Made with ground beef and pork (because why limit yourself?), a side order of three ($12) comes with warm focaccia, smoked mozzarella and marinara for dipping, and is perfect. It’s the kind of thing that, if I were to truly give in to my dirtbag tendencies, I can imagine eating as a protein-rich breakfast. If you’re already getting a pizza, it’s a good side order for sharing.
I don’t live in Burien, but if I did I would probably come here all the time. And I would certainly brave the drive to go back. Sometimes, in a city that’s growing and changing as quickly as Seattle, it can be nice to have a low-key dinner in a place that feels warmly neighborhood-focused. It’s a part of the Seattle I grew up in that I feel a particular kind of nostalgia for, but I shouldn’t — it hasn’t really gone away.
Burien Pizzeria, Monday-Thursday 4-9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 4-10 p.m., Sunday 3-9 p.m. (no happy hour), regular happy hour Tuesday-Thursday 4-5 p.m. and 8:30-9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 4-5 p.m. and 9-10 p.m., all-day happy hour Monday 4-9:30 p.m.; 907 S.W. 152nd St., Burien; 206-241-0696, burienpizzeria.com