Ballard doesn’t need another pizza joint — as everyone who’s watched the pizza proliferation there keeps telling me. But I’ll bet even detractors will make an exception for Veraci Pizza, whose portable wood-fired pizza ovens make guest appearances at farmers markets and catering gigs all around town:
Four years ago when I wrote about Veraci, their single hand-built unit was a big hit at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market and the fledgling company was a part-time labor of love for owners Marshall Jett (then a teacher at Hawthorne Elementary) and his wife and business-partner Errin Byrd-Jett (a regional recruiter for the Peace Corps). Today Veraci Pizza involves three portable ovens, five full-timers (including Errin’s sister, Krista), 20 on-call pizza-crewmembers and a Ballard store that — if the pizza gods and the permitting departments are with us — they expect to remodel and open in August:
The shop, at 500 N.W. Market Street, has a longstanding history as a pizza joint. Formerly a Domino’s, it had a short-lived stint as Paradise Pizza. Seattle’s gourmands will know it as that place directly across the street from Le Gourmand. (How close is it? I took this photo with my dinky digital camera, using my dinky telephoto lens while standing in Veraci’s new parking lot):
“We’ve been looking for a permanent location for three years,” says Errin — who keeps the books and hoists a pizza peel with the best of them, hitting the road when duty calls:
“We wanted a place with parking that was close to home. We want to ride our bikes to work,” she says. Proximity to home will also allow her to keep a close eye on both Veraci and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter Olivia, who’s been working in the family business since she was knee-high to a 50-pound sack of flour:
Marshall couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of opening a permanent pizza-joint, where plans involve major improvements like landscaping, a trellised deck, booth seating and the installation of a new oven — he sold the one that came with the shop yesterday. “We’re trying to get a beer and wine license,” says Marshall. He hopes to eventually offer Manny’s Pale Ale and Woodinville wines to go with salads, gelato and, of course, their signature pizzas and rotating specials, sold by the quarter-pie slice ($4-$4.75) or whole ($16-$19), and made with fine local ingredients:
As for that proliferation of pizzerias in Ballard? Marshall — a New Yorker whose college town boasted 10 pizzerias on a single block — has this to say about that: “I welcome everyone who wants to do it. It’s an amazing food.” And if you can’t wait till August to get your hands on a slice, you can look for Veraci at farmers markets on Sunday (Ballard, Fremont, Mercer Island), Thursday (Bellevue) and Friday (Phinney Ridge) and now in Bend, Oregon, where Marshall’s brother Cameron has taken the Veraci Pizza show on the road.
Or, if you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll be sitting in your home office working one day, as I was this time last year, and (No way! I’m dreamin’!) a truck with a trailer supporting a wood-fired pizza oven will pull up at the neighbor’s house across the street. Then, the next thing you know, a guy will jump out and get to work making pizza-dough for a graduation party. . .
. . .and you’ll soon be eating pizza that looks exactly like this: