Zagi's Pizza Ristorante
2408 NW 80th St, 706-0750
Tue-Thu 10:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri-Sat 10:30 am-midnight, Sun noon-9 pm.

The trend in pizza of late is toward militantly authentic Neapolitan--sleek sit-down places where the oven, the flour, even the pizzaiolo (that's the pizza guy) are imported directly from Italy. I ate this delicate, rarified version of our friend pizza pie at the trendy restaurant A16 in San Francisco a couple years ago; now it's crept up the coast to Via Tribunali on Capitol Hill and Tutta Bella in Columbia City. This proliferation of pizza is inherently good, as is the pizza on offer, but these aren't grab-a-slice-and-jam-it-down-your-gullet places. This is pizza as art, or at least as noble craft, rather than pizza as primal satisfaction.

Enter Zagi's, the new pizza joint deep in Ballard. It's tiny, it's got a terrible mural of an Italian fountain, the pizzaiolo is listening to Eric Clapton, and the slices are bigger than your head. The pie is New York style, and it is satisfaction incarnate. A little cornmeal on the bottom of the excellent crust adds body without giving the gritty sensation that your pizza's been dropped on a cornmeal beach. The cheese evades the mountain-of-mozzarella problem and tastes interesting enough to make a plain slice a pleasure. Specialty pies, like the meat-loaded Hyak ($18.95-$24.95) or the garlic extravaganza ($16.95-$22.95), are loaded (but not too much so) with fresh, well-cared-for toppings. If you want to get fancy in the latter area, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, homemade pesto, and so forth are available.

Caesar salad ($5.95) loses points for boxed croutons and hard little rods of Parmesan; if you require greens, the Italian garden salad ($5.95) is better. A mushy eggplant Parmigiano sub ($7) is a waste of stomach space. Save it for the pie. Other places may be certified real by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana; Zagi's is certified real good by your mouth.