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A little char goes a long way at Flying Goat

Fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and red sauce pizza made with artisan crust from The Flying Goat. (Colin Mulvany)
Fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and red sauce pizza made with artisan crust from The Flying Goat. (Colin Mulvany)

The Flying Goat burns pizza. On purpose.

Don’t cringe when these pies land on the table with a somewhat blackened crust, that char is an important part of the flavor of these artisan pizzas.

Manager Beth McRae says they try to hit about 20 to 30 percent blackening on the crusts but they sometimes hear about it from customers who aren’t expecting it to look quite so … charred.

“We are still committed to doing the char,” says McRae “Unfortunately some people think that is burned, but it just adds so much flavor to the pies. If they want it less charred we’ll do it for them.”

I say: Long live the char. It lends a nice smoky complexity to each bite and a satisfying crunch to the thin-crust pizzas.

We’ve dined at the Flying Goat enough that when the pizza arrived without that signature blackening last week we worried they were backing off of the style because of customer demand.

Turns out, they were tuning up the gas-fired Woodstone oven because it was cooking pizzas too fast and burning them. Our pizzas arrived with beautiful golden brown crusts.

That made the young noshers at our table happier than ever. They made short work of their kid-sized pies. We were left wishing our NW Boulevard ($12) had spent a few more minutes in the flames.

The pie was topped with pepperoni, caramelized onions, house-made sauce and the Flying Goat’s blend of cheeses. Chefs bring the pepperoni and other meats from Zoe’s in Seattle, which makes nitrate-free meats.

The caramelized onions were either forgotten or chefs could use a bit heavier hand on that particular topping, but overall the pizza was delicious.

We’ve also worked our way through the Gordon, Providence and the Wellington (all $13). All were topped with quality, fresh ingredients. The Providence is my favorite with the tang of chevre goat cheese and blend of fresh herbs in each bite.

We also have noshed on the McLellan Rocks Spuds ($7). The baked Yukon Golds are topped with a spicy chili pepper sauce or arugula pesto.

They leave you thirsty for one of the many beers on tap. I liked the restaurant’s signature Horned Aviator, made locally by Northern Lights. It was perfect for hops lovers like me.

The restaurant also has a signature red wine, Goat Head Red, made by local winemaker Don Townshend. Maybe next time.

I’m not done exploring the pizzas. The next on my list is the D Street ($12), which promises yellow coconut curry, chicken, potato, carrot, house cheese blend, cilantro, sriracha (Thai hot sauce) and lime juice.

We usually start with a salad and then share one of the 12-inch pizzas. My husband is as serious a pizza eater as they come, but he said we would go back just for the Audubon Caesar ($6). Crunchy Romaine and garlicky house-made Caesar dressing were the clinchers ($6).

I liked the small house salad, officially the Albi Italian ($5), with mixed greens, cucumber, red onion, tomato and pepperoncini.

But the Nat Arugula was a nice change of pace, with slightly spicy arugula serving as the base of the salad, topped with roasted asparagus, tomato and lemon parmesan vinaigrette.

Honestly, when the Flying Goat opened on the heels of South Perry Pizza, I wondered how many of these neighborhood joints we need. Ferrante’s, Villaggio and the traveling oven of Veraci all seem to be vying for the same pie holes.

Now, I’m a fan. It’s not the same pizza. Or, the same restaurant. I didn’t feel like I was having déjà vu with each meal. Each one has its own signature crust and style.

They are equally cozy, fun and reasonably priced with ever-changing menus, taps and wine choices. Maybe every neighborhood needs one so everyone doesn’t have to pack through The Flying Goat’s doors.

The place gets busy. We managed to avoid peak times and the service issues that can go along with that (you do that when you’re dining with children). But friends have told us that the Goat can get pretty crazy.

The Flying Goat does a particularly good job of honoring the Audubon area with pizzas named for area streets and photos of the neighborhood inside.

The building was refurbished with wood salvaged from Otis Leonard’s grain elevator. A picture of the original grain elevator, constructed in 1910 in Ritzville, hangs on the pub wall. The rustic décor lends to the fare and feeling of the restaurant.

Another reason I’ll be back to The Flying Goat – as if I needed one – is the patio. I can’t wait for tolerable weather so I can sit by the fire pit outside.

Much has been made of the parking situation at The Flying Goat and I won’t belabor it here. The lot is quite small, but we haven’t had trouble finding a space during our visits.

If you end up parking on the street, be kind to the neighbors. The Flying Goat needs their support as much as yours.