Nestled on the leeward corner of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state is a little town at the end of the road called Port Townsend. It’s one of the oldest non-Spanish towns on the USA’s west coast and still has a largely Victorian aesthetic. Water Street is the main drag. Along each side of the street two and three story red brick buildings sit like beacons from a bygone era — each one has a faded mural for some product or another, long discontinued. The insides of these buildings are largely original. Wooden staircases lead to creaky second floors. Plate glass windows look out onto the Straits of Juan de Fuca and snow-capped Olympic Mountains.
About 2/3 of the way down Water Street sits a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called Waterfront Pizza. That’s where my old man would take me for a slice after an afternoon out salmon fishing or dragging up crab pots. I can still smell the oven to this day — the mozzarella, sourdough bread, sizzling pepperoni. It’s all there in my sense memory. We’d walk in to the small shop and I’d gaze around at the tiny prep area and two huge ovens. Flour seemed to coat everything. I watched in awe as the pizziaolo stretched the dough and topped the pies. The smell wafting from the oven was magical.
We’d always get the same thing — two slices and two root beers. And it was always pizza with pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, and pineapple. In the years since, I’ve traveled the world, I’ve learned to cook, and I’ve never had anything as good as those slices of pizza with my old man all washed down with root beer. Never once.