Since Delancey opened in August, there’s been plenty of hubbub amongst the foodie set on the internet, reviews in the papers, and long waits for tables. When the Wednesday night dinner group tried to get in the first time, the two-hour wait was so disheartening that they ended up at Veraci instead. But finally, these many months later, they decided to try again. And while I had any number of pressing things I should have been doing instead, I really couldn’t resist going along. I’ve been following the story of Delancey on co-owner Molly Wizenberg’s food blog, Orangette, and could hardly wait to see for myself.
So, on a frigid evening, I parked my car on a dark Ballard side street and hurried into the warmth of the little restaurant. Michael and Dan were already there, and the host had assured them that the wait shouldn’t be too long. Lori arrived a few minutes later, and we sat in the tiny waiting area, gradually thawing out.
The several other groups also waiting for tables chatted patiently, sipping glasses of wine and looking over menus. The food in front of the people seated at the bar smelled divine. And in the open kitchen, serious pizza-making was going on. I recognized the guy carefully stretching pizza dough as Brandon, one of the owners. Completely focused on his task, he had a calm, absorbed expression on his face, as though he were listening for the dough to tell him when it was ready.
Just as Dan suggested that the four of us should order eight pizzas, the front door opened, and in walked a red-haired young woman clutching a notebook and grinning from ear to ear as she greeted the staff in the kitchen. It was Molly Wizenberg herself–exuding energy and, frankly, just sort of glowing.
The host checked in with us a few times, smiling and pleasant. He commiserated over the wait, saying that our table for four should be available soon, but the party currently at the table seemed to be enjoying lingering over their drinks…
We got our table after about a 45-minute wait, which given the epic historical wait times, seemed pretty bearable.
We ordered four pizzas, not eight, and they came quickly, piping hot from the oven. They were delightful pizzas, with a good ratio of crust to sauce to toppings. The crust was flavorful and chewy in places, crisp in others, but never crackery like some thin crust pizza can be. The Pepperoni was a classic. The Sausage was a poem…housemade sausage bursting with meaty flavor, a slightly sweet tomato sauce, and rounds of fresh mozzarella came together in a most lyrical way. The Romano had fresh and aged mozzarella, thin anchovies, kalamata olives, and a hint of spice somewhere in the mix that made the already fresh flavors a little more raucous. Richly flavorful, The Crimini was paved with mushrooms. Sliced paper-thin and toasted to the perfect doneness, they covered the pizza like a drift of fall leaves deep enough to shuffle gloriously through.
As we ate our pizzas, I luxuriated in the warmth and relative humidity of the restaurant, the air outside having been so achingly cold and dry the last week or so. From our table, I had a good view of the kitchen, and watched as the business of pizza-making continued. All of the staff at Delancey were young. Bright and shiny, they all gave off palpable air of cheerful competence. Every one of them seemed to really care about what they are doing, and to be having a really good time doing it. I watched as they topped pizzas, and grated cheese with careful air attention, and checked the bottom of pizzas in the open wood-fired pizza oven.
For dessert, we shared a sort of pear-crumble concoction that tasted like apple pie to me. It was good, pleasantly hearty winter fare.
Delancey: a great place to eat, and worth the wait. Getting a glimpse of the real restaurant and people behind the stories on Orangette: Priceless.