In Capitol Hill, Star Chef Does High-End Pizza for the People

Pizzas with foraged morels and chickpea pesto? Not surprisingly, when John Sundstrom is involved, it works.

By Chelsea Lin

0617_ED_southpaw

June 19, 2017

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Seattle Magazine.

“Down for the count” read the bold letters across a wall at Lark chef/owner John Sundstrom’s new pizzeria, Southpaw. The restaurant name is an overt callout to the term used for a left-handed boxer. And that phrase? It’s how you’ll feel after one too many slices of Title Fight.

The six-month-old Capitol Hill restaurant’s name also refers to an unorthodox style of pizza, and you’ll notice that in roughly half of the menu’s signature pies, including the Title Fight ($22/16-inch pie)—with wild mushrooms from local Foraged and Found Edibles, lardo, fresh thyme, roasted garlic and arugula—and the Middle Eastern-inspired Contender ($21), which is topped with fennel sausage and feta over a base of basil chickpea pesto. These show Sundstrom’s stamp. “As I started thinking about what kind of pizza I wanted to make, I realized it had to represent my aesthetic as a chef,” Sundstrom says. Of course, he hasn’t forgotten the “everyday pizza people,” as he calls them, so there’s also a thick-sliced pepperoni and a four-cheese. The few salads, such as the hearts of romaine tossed in simple, lemony buttermilk dressing, are, predictably—given his reverence of vegetables—some of the menu’s highlights.

Connoisseurs, however, know that a pizza’s success rides not on the quality of toppings alone, but on the dough. Sundstrom worked with head baker Ben Campbell to develop a recipe that gets its structure from Small’s Family Farm’s high-protein flour (the same flour is used in Lark’s bread and pasta) with a touch of Bluebird Grain Farms’ hard red wheat for complexity. The wood-fired oven out back creates a pleasantly chewy New York-meets-Neapolitan pie blistered and burnt just enough.

Located in the space where Lark built its reputation for 11 years before moving into its current, beautiful home a couple of blocks over, Southpaw seems kitschy compared to Lark’s grace. Boxing references abound. (I fully support the Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots game kids can play while the pizza bakes.) But Sundstrom knows what he’s doing: This is a casual, more affordable eatery meant to utilize “the same ingredients I would use at Lark to make a $40 entrée,” Sundstrom says, the same way his Slab Sandwich restaurant does. The price point, though, is meant to appeal to the many students nearby—something Lark has never done.

Must Try
His salty chocolate chip cookie ($3, also served at Slab), warmed briefly in the wood-fired oven.

 

Photography by Peachy Juban-Notter

Pastry: An Affair to Remember

Chef Ewald Notter of Dote Coffee Bar makes it easy to fall in love with pastry and chocolate

Most romances unfold in predictable ways. An invitation for lunch, where you share sandwiches in a loud café, silently wishing your bread was crisper, but never giving up on the idea that one day it might be. An awkward laugh as your fingers touch while you both reach across the table for sugar in that…

TRU2814675 homepage-min

Mix It Up. Try old-school cocktails this holiday season

These 10 drinks may not be on the menu at your local bar, but all pack a punch as well as some colorful history

Editor’s note: A version of this story previously appeared in “Seattle” magazine. Impress your guests this holiday season with these 10 concoctions from a vintage bar guide from Glenn Shaw Creations – supposedly from the 1950s – found in an antique shop in Olympia a few years back. Keep in mind that these drinks may…

image0 square-min

Sip, Slurp, Celebrate at Frank’s Oyster House

Let’s be Frank about Champagne

The best bubbles in Washington state may very well be found at an East Coast-style restaurant in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. That, at least, is the opinion of The Champagne Bureau, USA, which has named Frank’s Oyster House and Champagne Parlor as one of the top 10 bars and restaurants in the nation for the quality…

The apiary at The Lodge at St. Edward State Park.

Seattle Buildings Just Let It Bee

There’s a buzz happening throughout the region

You know the Smith Tower as Seattle’s original skyscraper. You know that the 108-year-old, 38-floor tower was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi.   You may not be aware that the 22nd floor is now home to an apiary containing a thriving colony of thousands of honeybees. It is one of several apiaries located…