Like when you recognize a face but can't quite place it, there is something naggingly familiar about the pie at the newly-opened All-Purpose Pizza & Ale. The beautifully browned piles of Gorgonzola, mozzarella, and shaved parmesan on the fromage à trois ($18.80/large) initially masked the distinct hint of taste, but by the time I hit pure crust I almost had it. Saltine? Grandma's homemade rolls? No—aha! San Francisco bread bowl. "We use sourdough, but we don't want it to be overwhelming," owner Kedra Scott says. "It just brings that subtle nuance to our pizza, and Seattle hasn't had anything like that before." Kedra and husband Greg are Bay Area natives, and Greg worked in a sourdough pizza kitchen there for eight years (the couple actually met when Greg delivered a pizza to Kedra). But the dough used at All-Purpose is no Golden State transplant. Because local yeasts in the air create the fermentation process, "The taste is very unique to this area," Kedra said. Adding to All-Purpose's delicious novelty, the restaurant radiates the stay-a-while independent-coffee shop vibe with dramatic abstract paintings on plum-colored walls, wireless Internet connection, chatty servers (including Kedra), and Monday open-mike nights. Nothing new for the Capitol Hill crowd, perhaps, but—emerging from a lackluster tangle of Subway, Taco Del Mar, and Papa Murphy's eateries down the block—All-Purpose reflects a transforming Jackson Street corridor. (Have you seen the rows of new condos and townhouses squatting around Martin Luther King Jr. Way?) All-Purpose's delivery area spans Madison Park to the Central District to Columbia City, and neighborhood folks should be happy to swap out Pizza Time on speed dial, opting for more gourmet pies like Ked's Fave ($21.88/large) with arugula, prosciutto, shaved almonds, garlic, and olive oil sauce. The menu and kitchen crew reflect a coup for the Scotts: they wooed Brian Casey of Piecora's Pizza notoriety into their kitchen after his cooking-school buddy, Neeva Fender, convinced him to share manager/chef duties. My husband is a registered carnivore, so I choked a little on a swig of Coke when he declared the "Weed Eater" ($21.88/large)—covered in a veggie orgy of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and red onion—his top pizza pick. The pesto sauce, he said, is a zesty change from the usual red stuff. Might there be hope yet that he won't die of clogged arteries? Probably not; he proceeded to also put away a saucy meatball grinder faster than Apolo Ohno glides across the ice. The meat was savory and juicy, packed with slivers of onion. Soup, salad, pasta, dessert, local ales, and wine are also available. "Mom's Caesar" ($12/family size) features a delicate tangy dressing, courtesy of Kedra's mother's recipe. The blue cheese, crisp green apples, and candied walnuts in the Waldorf salad ($12/family size) make it a standout, too—but you should definitely devote as much stomach space as possible to the pizza. firstname.lastname@example.org
All-Purpose Pizza & Ale 2901 S. Jackson St., 206-324-8646, www.allpurposepizza.com. LESCHI. Open for lunch and dinner daily.