The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge’s chicken pesto pizza also is topped with with zucchini, garlic oil, roma tomatoes and goat cheese. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge’s chicken pesto pizza also is topped with with zucchini, garlic oil, roma tomatoes and goat cheese. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

Delicious pizzas emerge from this Bothell eatery’s huge oven

The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge, which recently opened next to McMenamin’s, offers a wide selection of Italian food.

BOTHELL — Jason Bailey had to tear down some walls so people could enjoy his pizza.

Bailey, who co-owns The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge on Bothell Way NE, had a 4-ton brick-lined oven shipped to his restaurant from the East Coast. But the monster oven, 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide, wouldn’t fit through any of the doors.

“I thought we were going to have a problem,” he said.

Bailey, who has done plenty of construction at his three other restaurants, gave the Pizza Lounge entrance a face lift to squeeze the oven in.

Problem solved.

Since opening Oct. 30, Bailey and his staff have made Neapolitan-style pizza around the clock. The process for making the 14-inch pizzas takes about 12 hours, but the dedication is worth it, as I, my dad and family friend Katie Boer of Bothell discovered at a recent visit.

Neapolitan-style pizza is typically made with simple ingredients: basic dough, raw tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil. The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge takes things a step further by adding toppings such as pine nuts, speck (a close cousin to bacon), marinated eggplant and shiitake mushrooms, while also making its dough from finely ground “00” flour, sea salt and olive oil.

We split the chicken pesto pizza with zucchini, garlic oil, roma tomatoes and goat cheese ($16). The tomatoes and zucchini, sourced from organic farms, tasted like they came straight from a garden, which was a nice switch-up from the pepperoni pizzas I’ve chowed on lately.

Katie said she was pleasantly surprised by the combination of ingredients.

“I love the combination of the pesto and the goat cheese with the thin crust,” she said. “They do thin crust well. A lot of places serve burnt thin crust. This doesn’t.”

In addition to pizza, The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge, next to McMenamins Anderson School, serves a variety of Italian food, such as lasagna, chicken piccata, and spaghetti and meatballs, as well as sandwiches, soups, salads and seafood.

We went with some appetizers, starting with garlic knots ($6) that are served with house-made pomodoro sauce. The sauce is a thicker version of marinara with slightly different ingredients: shallots, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and San Marzano tomatoes.

The garlic knots, sprinkled with Parmesan, are served with house-made pomodoro sauce. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

The garlic knots, sprinkled with Parmesan, are served with house-made pomodoro sauce. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

I expected the knots to be drenched in garlic butter, but I was glad to see that they weren’t. This subtle approach left more room for me to savor the light and fluffy bread, also made from 00 flour, and the pomodoro sauce.

Their texture and taste reminded Dad of a popular street food in Mexico, only it wasn’t sugary.

“To me, it was like an Italian churro,” he said.

The meatballs at The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge are made of pork and veal and served with parmesan cheese, pomodoro sauce and garlic bread. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

The meatballs at The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge are made of pork and veal and served with parmesan cheese, pomodoro sauce and garlic bread. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

The meatballs are made of pork and veal and served with Parmesan, pomodoro sauce and garlic bread ($10). The dish was tasty, but not exceptional, mostly because nothing jumped out at me with about the meatballs.

The biggest surprise of the dinner was the arancini ($6), which are fried rice balls stuffed with arborio rice (used to make risotto), mozzarella cheese, parsley and Parmesan. They’re also served with marinara or pomodoro sauce.

Arancini are rice balls stuffed with arborio rice, mozzarella cheese, parsley and parmesan cheese, then fried. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

Arancini are rice balls stuffed with arborio rice, mozzarella cheese, parsley and parmesan cheese, then fried. (Evan Thompson / The Herald)

I could taste the rice and cheese melting as soon as I bit into the crunchy exterior. While Dad didn’t feel the need to dip his into the pomodoro sauce, I thought it made it all the more delicious.

Bailey, 48, of Auburn, opened The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge with co-owner Kevin Phillips, 44, of Seattle. The longtime friends and business partners previously owned Prime Steakhouse in the same location, but it closed after an 11-month run due to a steeply priced menu that didn’t draw enough customers during the week.

Bailey, who also owns Prime Steakhouse in Redmond, said he hopes the menu at The Brick Oven Pizza Lounge will be more approachable for birthday parties, corporate gatherings and work lunches. He’s confident the pizzas, which he’s had years to tinker with after owning a brick oven pizza restaurant in Tacoma, will keep customers coming back.

“I would kind of equate it to golf,” he said. “It takes a day to learn how to do it, and years to get good at it.”

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

Brick Oven Pizza Lounge, 18505 Bothell Way NE, Suite 105, is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 425-949-7555 or go to www.brickovenbothell.com.

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