After rounding up three pop-ups a few weeks ago, I had a total extended Baader-Meinhof moment. Suddenly, just like buying a blue car has you seeing blue cars everywhere, pop-ups were everywhere. There was pizza on Sundays, bagels on Fridays and an Indian/Pakistani feast with hints of Texas barbecue on Sundays. Some required advance online ordering, my pulse racing as I tried to quickly get my order in before it was sold out. All had clear instructions, and delicious results. Get ready to set a few calendar reminders.
I had heard the legend of the impossible-to-get bagels from Roan Hartzog for a while – before there was a website, bagels were obtained by sending a message through an Instagram account. Now a little order button appears on the Mt. Bagel website each Monday at noon selling bagels for the next week — and they often sell out by 12:05 p.m.
Lucky bagel recipients can choose to order by the dozen for delivery on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and by the half-dozen for pickup at Harry’s Fine Foods on Capitol Hill on Thursdays and Fridays. Choose from eight different bagels and five different flavors of cream cheese. I don’t want to ruin my bagel karma here, but I have attempted to order from Mt. Bagel twice and scored both times. I’ve had sesame and everything bagels, both with a wonderfully taut exterior and chewy interior. They are great fresh on Day 1, wonderful toasted on Day 2, and I can’t tell you about Day 3 as they’ve all been gone by then.
Orders for the following week go live each Monday at noon at mtbagel.com
Garrett Fitzgerald started making pizzas in a shed in his backyard last October; he had a pizza sign out front and friends would message to book mini parties where Fitzgerald served six to eight pizzas. Before too long, word spread beyond friends and even friends-of-friends to complete strangers, and Fitzgerald moved to a more formal setup. His grandfather used to have a restaurant named Dantini in Indiana. So he had a friend draw him a sad-looking cartoon man and Dantini the pizza pop-up was born.
Since June, you’ve been able to find him (and his girlfriend Karly Birch, who helps source produce and coordinate pickups) at Harry’s Fine Foods on Capitol Hill on Sundays. Orders go live each Thursday with the chance to order up to two of the 40 pizzas he makes each week. The dough is a two-day ferment and produces what Fitzgerald calls “deck oven, medium hand-tossed with a long bake.”
It’s “American-style,” he says with a bit of a laugh.
Regular menu items include a pepperoni with whole cloves of roasted garlic ($22), ricotta with black pepper and lemon ($22), and cheese with olive oil ($20), but Fitzgerald says if he finds a vegetable from One Leaf Farm he thinks might be good on pizza he’ll make a fourth, specialty pie. One week that meant broccoli with gouda and smoked chili flakes ($27) and holy moly was it delightful. The pizzas are a substantial 16 inches, with a crisp crust, perfectly spaced toppings and just the right amount of cheese. I’ve eaten them cold, I’ve eaten them lukewarm and I’ve eaten them piping hot. There is no way I wouldn’t eat a Dantini pizza.
Fitzgerald is still looking into opportunities in other neighborhoods; in addition to his regular Sunday gig at Harry’s, he recently did a pop-up at Good Day Donuts in White Center.
The best way to stay informed about pizza nights is to check out dantinipizza.com or the Dantini Instagram (instagram.com/dantinipizza). Preorders go live Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. for Sunday pickup at Harry’s Fine Foods. If pizzas sell out on Sundays, he usually has a few slices available for walk-ups.
It’s been over a week and I am still swooning thinking about the kheema ($14) from Karachi Cowboys, Nasir Zubair’s weekly pop-up. On the surface it’s just ground beef, studded with sweet green peas and served on basmati rice, but there is so much depth. There’s garlic and ginger, crunchy pickled red onion and crispy fried shallots. The peas still pop, the beef is more creamy than crumbly. Also wonderful are the aloo sliders ($12). Potatoes, turmeric and fresh spices are mashed and formed into fat patties, fried crisp and placed on a squashy Hawaiian sweet roll with tamarind barbecue sauce and a side of crunchy red cabbage slaw. There’s also chana masala ($12), red lentil dal ($12) and warm dates stuffed with pistachios ($5). Zubair hosted his first pop-up at Delancey in March 2019; the goal was to create a “multi-course Indian/Pakistani feast with Texas BBQ soul.”
Things are fully dialed in now and you can find him every Sunday at B-Side Foods on Capitol Hill from 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Send a direct message through Instagram (instagram.com/karachicowboys) or text 206-225-1938 to preorder.