the stranger

The cocktail menu at Central Pizza in the Central District makes owners Ellie Rose and Eric Ellsworth's bartending experience immediately apparent. It includes a drink made with cava (the Aperol You've Done) and the Sawadee, a moonshine, lemon, ginger, and muddled basil concoction that tastes almost healthy and, perhaps dangerously, not even slightly of booze. The two met while bartending years ago at Belltown Pizza. Central's pizza is thin-crust and piled with toppings. The slice I tried was carpeted with tender mushrooms and miraculously not-mushy spinach. Whole pies are available—the most popular are the Porter Pie, with seasonal fruit, prosciutto, and mozzarella, and the multi-meat (though sadly not musical) Animal Collective.

Central Pizza has a Dirty Dancing reference on the menu ("Nobody puts a pizza in a corner") and a collage of retro movie hunks in the bathroom. When asked the oddest topping she could think of, Ellie spoke in awe of pizza crusts filled with tiny hot dogs. Central Pizza's clientele so far is mostly CD and Leschi families, though the place has more of a party atmosphere since the kids' play area (installed by All Purpose Pizza, the space's former inhabitant) has been replaced by a full bar. recommended