Seattle has upped its pizza game. Not quite to the level of the flatbread-crazed meccas of Chicago and New York City, but the Emerald City has been adding more quality pizzerias to its restaurant registry. One of the latest is Coltiva Pizzeria e Barre, helmed by Garrett McAleese, a second-generation Northwest restaurateur and eager addition to the pizza scene.
“For me Coltiva is not just ‘another’ pizza place in Seattle,” says McAleese, who also owns Kells Irish Brewery and Restaurant in Portland and whose father opened Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub in Pike Place Market’s Post Alley in 1983. “There is fantastic pizza all over town but no one is doing farm-to-table with their pizzas… Coltiva feels like you are in an Italian kitchen, we are passionate about the whole meal, not just the pizza.”
The pizzeria owner credits his love of scratch-made Italian food to his mother’s heritage, and from experiences traveling abroad in his childhood and early ’20s. The farm-to-table concept is fueled by his family-run farm in Oregon, which McAleese says allows the restaurant to showcase the organic produce grown but also forces the team to be inventive and creative pizzas that use what is in season.
Since opening on the west side of lower Queen Anne earlier this month, Coltiva welcomes all into its brightly lit quarters, a cozy restaurant and bar that seats 31. Guests are nestled into the vintage pizzeria seats and wooden tables framed by tarnished ironwork and backed by the small bar with its adjacent wood-fire pizza oven in the corner.
In an expanding sea of pizza, these five bite-sized tasting notes on Coltiva should help when deciding where to eat.
1) A majority of the ingredients on the menu are sourced directly from Italy or grown by McAleese and his family on their Oregon farm.
The Italian ingredients come from connections either in Sardinia or with local wholesalers of these products hand-selected by McAleese. When in season, everything from tomatoes to gem lettuce, basil and fennel hail from the family farm which McAleese says will continue to grow as the restaurant does. The menu updates and prints weekly to keep it fresh.
2) This is authentic, thin-curst pizza made from handmade Italian dough.
The menu also keeps it simple with just eight options, from a classic Margherita to the Funghi (mozzarella topped with greens, chanterelles and black truffle oil) and the Fennel Sausage, as advertised with the addition of mozzarella and red onions. For the most part, the thin yet sturdy crust (imported from Italy) holds up the minimal ingredients, in which McAleese says he has focused more on quality toppings rather than excess marinara.
3) Portions are the real meal deal.
Or, maybe better put, the full meal deal. The pies are described as “a little bit larger than a personal” and if one comes hungry, this is accomplishable. But if one gets a salad or marinated Castelvetrano olives to start, expect to take some pie home with you. Despite a thinner crust in style, the portions are generous and filling.
4) There is a house beer.
Handcrafted specifically to wash down pizza by McAleese’s team at the Portland Kells brewery, the Coltiva lager is crisp, cleansing and especially quaffable. Thanks to a lower ABV, guests can knock back a couple while taking down a pie or two.
5) The barre is stocked.
The full bar represents both Italian favorites and local mainstays, while the wine list leans heavily on Italian varieties and producers. Hot tip: Aperol spritzes go for only $6 during happy hour, which runs 5-6 p.m. everyday, and match quite nicely when washing down the Calabrian peppered and Italian salami-stacked Piccante pie.