Wednesday, September 19, 2012

FoodTrek: The Forbidden Valley of Thaitalian at The Station Pizzeria

Pizza is pretty much one of those Perfect Foods in life. It can be made quickly, for those lunch breaks when you don't have time for a sit-down restaurant meal. If you're really in a bind, you can eat it while working at your desk, since the handy taco-fold style of grabbing a slice is a convenient method. Be it simple and traditional, or wild and unique, the combination of toppings are only as limited as your food imagination. And it can be delivered to your door in less than 30 minutes, how sexy is that? For all these reasons and more, pizza is a celebrated food, and so it's great to enjoy a place like The Station Pizzeria that truly celebrates this doughy disc of endless possibilities.

Yea, though I walk through The Valley of Pizza, I shall fear no hunger - Photo by Wasabi Prime
I was excited to hear about a specialty pizzeria opening up in the nearby neighborhood city of Woodinville; relatively close by, the same family who owns/operates Italianissimo, another favorite hangout, and fancy-schmancy pizzas -- what's not to love? The Station opened its doors earlier this summer and has been doing a steady business, thanks to their location in the center of the Woodinville Tourist District, aka, The Carnival of Roundabouts. Remember National Lampoon's European Vacation? "Look kids! Parliament! Big Ben!" Their location is ideal if you're doing a wine tasting wander, since it's right across the street from the Hollywood Schoolhouse, along with several retail squares filled with wine tasting rooms. It's also within walking distance of Willows Lodge, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Redhook Brewery and Columbia Winery, plus you see plenty of bicycle traffic coming through on nice days. It's a pretty focused part of  Woodinville for things to see, but since a lot of the places are mostly wine tasting rooms, having another restaurant helps the crowds have something to go with all that tasty wine.

The Station Pizzeria - your new favorite pizza spot - Photos by Wasabi Prime
As you can see from the menu, The Station's specialty pizzas aren't just  named "cheese and pepperoni" or "sausage and mushroom." You can get the traditional toppings, I saw plenty of people going with a classic pepperoni and cheese, but if you're going to a place that offers a pizza called Forbidden, for heaven's sake, why wouldn't you indulge? When my friend and I were ordering the pizzas, we realized our order could have read like a dramatic movie title, since our group had the Forbidden, The Valley and the Thaitalian. They need to make their pizza titles into those build-a-sentence magnets so people can make up Epic Orders like: The Forbidden Valley of Thaitalian, please. Extra napkins.

I made a couple of trips to The Station -- once on a sunny Friday evening with a couple of friends, and then a second trip for lunch with a larger group to really dig into the pizza offerings. It really is a social gathering place because while one person could easily enjoy one of their pizzas, it's more satisfying to order several different things, kind of like the idea behind going out for dim sum. The more the merrier. Parking can be tricky, since they don't have a big lot, but I tend to park in the open, unpaved lot, right by the smaller roundabout that leads you towards Redhook/Columbia/Willows Lodge. That lot can be busy on weekends if there's a game going on in the nearby park, and it becomes event parking for Chateau Ste. Michelle concerts, so just keep that in mind. It's worth the parking shell-game because The Station has a great outdoor patio. It's got dappled shade, perfect towards the end of the day as the sun sets, and if it's too warm, there's seats indoors as well. It's a summertime-perfect place, but I can totally seeing it get cozy for the cooler months.

Summer lovin' with Forbidden and The Valley pizzas - Photos by Wasabi Prime
But to the nitty-gritty: The Pizza. Thaitalian is one of their most unusual combinations -- chunks of lobster, peppers, fresh cilantro, and instead of  marinara, it's got a layer of rich spicy-sweet peanut sauce. Thai, meet Italian, get it? Sorry, peanut allergy/shellfish sufferers, I know this must be the Pizza of Death for you, but egads, I love it. It even made a believer out of one of my pizza-mates who doesn't prefer shellfish, but he really liked the combination. It's something that's been played with before, at one of Italianissimo's special Wine vs Beer dinners, when they first served it up as a fun experiment, and I was so glad that it's got a permanent home at The Station. The Forbidden is a sweet-savory mix of poached pears, shreds of pepperoni and prosciutto, fontina cheese and garlic sauce -- this was the favorite from my tablemates. It's just like Italianissimo's CDB pizza in terms of toppings, but having them on the thicker dough, crisped up by The Station's wood fire oven, it's a different eating experience. You taste the crust more with The Station's version, since it's thicker, and has a nice chew. The wood fire oven gives the dough a crisp outside, but the crust's interior remains tender, and you get the little smoky bits of char, which only adds to the flavor. The pizza that got the most discussion amongst our lunch group was The Valley, which has a confetti blitz of colorful vegetables like peppers, fresh corn and a mix of wild mushrooms, with a surprising crunch of savory-seasoned crisped rice. Imagine putting seasoned Rice Krispies on your pizza, which I'm now thinking I need to do at home. How brilliant is that? Take some plain crisped rice cereal, toss with some savory seasonings, and just add on your next pizza needing a little something extra. I picture that scene from The Breakfast Club where Ally Sheedy's shy little misanthrope character puts handfuls of Cap'n Crunch in her sandwich and just goes to town with crunchy, noisy abandon. All Hail John Hughes. The majority of our tablemates appreciated The Valley's complexity -- it was sweet from the fresh corn and peppers, but grounded with the earthy mushrooms; traditional pizza palates might look at it like a Jackson Pollack painting and say, "I don't get it." But you should try it for yourself and see what your tastebuds say.

Thai-inspired pizza and some rockstar wine - Photos by Wasabi Prime
The Station shares its building with Patterson Cellars' and Gorman Winery's tasting rooms, which makes it even more of a "let's sit here all afternoon and into the evening" kind of place, because both wineries make some mighty tasty things. On my first visit, it was nice to do a tasting, a little wine shopping, then grab a spot on The Station's side of the patio and wait for friends to arrive. The second time, my group wanted to do a Gorman tasting, so we sat on their section of the patio, did a walk-up order for pizza, and The Station will bring your order to wherever you're sitting. It's the new food/drink experience that I'm loving right now, since we do this at beer tasting places where they don't have a kitchen, but nearby restaurants are happy to bring your order to you. Very casual and laid-back. I totally dig the rock n' roll vibe of the Gorman tasting room -- AC/DC pinball machine, a corner decorated with signed guitars. There's no faux grapevines or rustic barrels to be seen, it's like walking into a sleek little wine bar, and Patterson is similarly decorated with a modern look. The tasting rooms are both places you want to hang out at, relax, and get to know the wines. Truthfully, this is how I like to taste wines -- a slow, relaxed experience, not trying to jam in twelve places in one afternoon. I live here, what's the hurry? My pizza-wine-lunchmates and I thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of a bottle of the Evil Twin red blend, which was a perfect wine to stand up to the bold pizza flavors. I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon, quite frankly, plus it was way better than doing yardwork.

Cheers, for those who are about to rock... and drink wine - Photos by Wasabi Prime
But what if you're not a pizza fan and you find your way to The Station? They do have gluten-free dough options, by the way. There are non-pizza entrees like chicken wings and tenderloin bites, which I haven't had a chance to try, but I did have a Friday Fry-Day, having their calamari and French fries. I highly recommend doing this once in a great while, as Aziz Ansari from Parks and Rec would say: Treat. Yo. Self. There's literally a whole menu of different sauces that go with The Station's appetizers. The fries came with a black truffle aioli and a spicy Asian ketchup, kind of like a sweet Sriracha-like sauce -- very good mix of flavors, ranging from earthy to sweet with the crispy fries.  The calamari was especially good -- breaded in a cornmeal batter, it gives the little squiggly squid-bites an extra crunch with some sweetness. A mango and serrano chutney comes with the calamari, which makes me never want the typical marinara dipping sauce again.

The Station and its proximity to so many wine tasting rooms is definitely making it on my roster of regular places to visit. I'm looking forward to trying more of the signature pizzas, I definitely want to be able to try them all at some point, so consider the pizza-gauntlet thrown down, Station!


  1. Love the review. I've been meaning to check out The Station for awhile now. My guy and I are planning our first date night sans baby this weekend - I'm thinking that would be an excellent excuse to finally make it there!

  2. Love you Denise! You gotta try the "My Oh My!" next time.... and the Cubano... and the Coppa Co Bamba! So much good stuff. Not So Classico, too!! =)

    1. Caylee - just had the Not So Classico on Sunday. Fantastic! We joked that the greens on top makes it like you're eating a salad, so we had a second pizza afterwards! ;)


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