It’s impossible to miss the square, red pizza oven when you walk into Lake Forest Park’s Local 104. With a temperature set at 600 degrees inside the oven and at 450 degrees on the wood stone floor, pizzas fly in and out of the oven’s mouth — the space above adorned with stickers in the shape of eyes, a nose and eyebrows. Co-owner Tony Vujovich mans the pizza paddle, staring into the flames, most likely dreaming up names for pizza specials.
“When you stare at pizzas cooking in an oven for six hours, there’s a lot of transient thought,” he says with a laugh during a recent phone call.
Vujovich and his business partner Margaret Edwins (owner of longtime Capitol Hill restaurant 611 Supreme, which closed in 2014) opened Local 104 on Halloween in 2019. The building was originally a Minimart, and before it was Local 104, it was a convenience store called the Lake Forest Park Market. It was important to Vujovich and Edwins to be in that specific neighborhood; he grew up near there and Edwins in nearby Lake City.
The menu is centered on neo-Neapolitan-style pizza, which differs from Neapolitan in a few ways. First, a neo-Neapolitan usually adds oil and sugar in the dough in addition to flour, water, yeast and salt. Vujovich uses Field 41 Bale Breaker beer as the water and sugar components. It’s also baked at a lower temperature, which creates a slightly different crust structure.
“The difference is when you pick up a piece [of Neapolitan-style pizza], it will drop, and when you pick up this, it stays,” Vujovich says.
At its core, Local 104 is a neighborhood restaurant, casting a wide net when it comes to menu options to draw in locals. In addition to pizzas, there are muffuletta and po’boy sandwiches, fried oysters and mussels for appetizers, mac-and-cheese, duck-fat potatoes with wine-poached prunes, seasonal salads and house-made ice cream. The menu is dotted with mentions of local farms throughout.
“We wanted [the menu] to reflect some of what we think of as food and make sure that people don’t forget about all the local producers,” Vujovich says.
Pizzas are 14 inches in diameter, large enough to share. They’re quirkily named — the Mr. Herman ($27), with pork belly pastrami, pickled red onion and Gruyere, is like a Reuben on a pizza, therefore named for Paul Reubens, the actor who played Pee-wee Herman.
Less esoteric perhaps is the Pat Kane ($22), a meatball pizza with charred onion, basil and Ferndale Farmstead’s fior di latte mozzarella, named for a local Civic Club legend.
“He’s an institution, a saint in the neighborhood,” Vujovich says.
The Amy Marie ($26), named for Vujovich’s wife, is topped with mushrooms, truffle salt and sottocenere al tartufo, a truffle-infused cheese.
There’s also a classic margherita and a pepperoni.
The pizzas have a crisp, sturdy bottom and a wonderful chew. Topping concentration is specialized, not homogenized across pies. While the Amy Marie is shellacked with paper-thin slices of mushrooms, the Pat Kane’s meatball situation is restrained so as not to overwhelm the crust.
Vujovich is a self-professed “pizza nerd,” who is always tinkering with his dough, spending four years getting his recipe the way he wanted it. Local 104 was open for six months before he added a gluten-free crust. Even now, he says he’s thinking about his dough recipe “all the time.”
“Interested people are interesting. If you keep looking into it, the more you find,” he says.
Local 104: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 4-8 p.m. Sunday; 18498 Ballinger Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; 206-309-4104; thelocal104.com
Brileys BBQ and Grill
Elsewhere in Lake Forest Park, head to Brileys BBQ and Grill the next time you’re in the mood for barbecue.
When it comes to barbecue, there’s a lot to love at this little shack, located just off Bothell Way Northeast. Instead of focusing on one style of ‘cue, Brileys is all over the map. You’ll find ribs, smoked and glazed with a sticky, spicy-sweet sauce; Texas-style brisket; Kansas City-style pulled pork, tossed in a sweet barbecue sauce; dirty rice flecked with barbecue beans, collard greens and slices of andouille sausage; and Baltimore-style pit beef, served with a hot horseradish mayo.
Meats are offered in half- or full-pound increments, and there are also sandwiches and a full selection of classic barbecue sides.
The Dorfman Platter ($25) features a choice of two half-pound meats, a piece of bacon and two sides. I went with pork back ribs and sliced brisket, adding on extra half-pounds of pit beef ($13) and pulled pork ($10).
The ribs are hefty — and while they’re not quite falling off the bone, they are all the things you want in a rib — smoky and tender with a good, blackened crust softened by just the right amount of sticky sauce. The pulled pork is fatty and sweet, delightful to eat on its own or with a forkful of coleslaw. I made a rookie mistake with the pit beef not ordering it as a sandwich. Thinly shaved and accompanied by the horseradish sauce, it’s just begging for bread.
Order to go and they’ll walk it to your car curbside. I know I’ll be back for more ribs — and a pit beef sandwich.
11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 15030 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; 206-466-1589; brileysbbq.com