Stoneburner is a Ballard restaurant with Neapolitan pizzas and pasta on the menu—which makes it unlike a lot of great Italian places in Seattle. Usually, you see one or the other, like at Bar Del Corso or Tavolata. These restaurants stick to what they’re good at because, in this city, it’s hard to pull off both pasta and pizza under the same roof.
Stoneburner’s no exception. You should ignore the subpar pastas and treat this place like an upscale pizzeria—one where you can drink cocktails and share some appetizers and a couple of their excellent pies. As long as you do that, this is one of the best restaurants in Ballard.
The impressive, dimly-lit space works well for a bunch of situations, especially if you want to have a big night out. You could plan your next birthday party here - just order a bunch of drinks and small plates, and force everybody you’re inviting to dress up. Even if you’re just hanging out with a friend at the restaurant’s winding wooden bar, a mix-and-match meal of grilled octopus with oranges in a chili sauce, crunchy fried castelvetrano olives stuffed with mozzarella, and charred broccoli with creamy lemon tahini paste still feels exciting.
photo credit: Nate Watters
The pizzas at Stoneburner are just as impressive as the space. The thin pies have a charred crust, sweet tomato sauce, and come with topping combinations like fontina fonduta with yukon gold potatoes or pepperoni with spicy pickled serranos and a drizzle of honey. They’re all served with a dish of freshly-grated parmesan, dried oregano still attached to its stem, and chile peppers for DIY garnishing. You might not think of impressing a serious date with some pizza, but when you’re sitting at a table next to their wine cellar eating these pies, you’ll seem like you know what you’re doing. There’s no way your date will decline your offer to move in—or at least go halfsies on a Costco card.
However, as much as we love the food here, we’d strongly advise against ordering any pasta. Simply pretend this section of the menu does not exist. It’s not that the pastas are bad, but they all have big issues—like the otherwise-delicious Calabrian sausage ragu that unfortunately tastes like an evil marjoram fairy cast a spell on it. Or, a comforting braised short rib that we’d eat again if only it wasn’t served on top of bland fusilli.
As long as you know what to avoid, you should visit Stoneburner any time you’re in the mood for pizza, snacks, and a fun night out. Eating pizza and partying—you should have no problem specializing in both.
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Crispy Castelvetrano Olives
These tart olives are stuffed with cheese and covered in breadcrumbs—don’t be surprised if you start popping them in your mouth like M&Ms.
Gem Lettuce Caesar
This is not a groundbreaking caesar, but this gem lettuce version is light, refreshing, and a little smoky from the dried moritas chiles in the dressing. It’s a great starter before getting into pizza.
Super Good Grilled Octopus
We’re happy to report that the octopus here truly lives up to its name, and happens to be some of the best octopus in the city. It’s grilled and tossed with the orange segments, roasted radishes, and chili sauce.
If this is the way broccoli always tasted, nobody would ever complain about it. The massive stalks have a great char on the outside that pairs insanely well with the thick lemon tahini underneath. You’ll want to order some ciabatta bread or save your pizza crust to swipe up the leftover sauce.
All of Stoneburner’s pizzas are excellent—it has something to do with the delicious tomato sauce and crispy thin crust. The best one, though, is the pie with pepperoni, oregano, spicy pickled serranos, and a drizzle of honey to cool off all of that spice. If this pizza had to apply for college, it’d get into Harvard.
Strozzapreti Cacio E Pepe
Cacio e pepe literally means “cheese and pepper” in Italian, but this bland, undercooked pasta hardly has any of either.
If you had to order any pasta at Stoneburner, you’re in relatively good hands with this tasty rigatoni—it comes tossed in a hearty Calabrian sausage ragu with a little pile of parmesan cheese on top. The only downside is that the amount of marjoram in the bowl is very overwhelming, almost like it was cursed by an herb demon. If you don’t like marjoram, really, don’t get this.
We can’t find a reason to eat this teeny $23 portion of watery, flavorless tortellini. Order a pizza instead.