Last-minute group dinners happen for a load of reasons. Someone who once was feeling existential about their birthday might suddenly want to celebrate. You may be brewery-hopping with a bunch of pals when the fourth round of IPA flights makes you hungry. Or, maybe you were recruited as the designated table-booker weeks ago and you just plain forgot until the night before.
No matter why you’re planning a hasty-but-casual group meal, The Masonry is the ideal place to do it.
It’s a walk-in spot that takes reservations, but truth be told, not many people actually make them. This means that you can typically snag an online booking for up to 10 people without much notice. If you have more humans than that, just call the restaurant and ask—we’ve done this before for 14 folks without fail.
photo credit: Nate Watters
And whether you’re inviting one friend or a dozen, the setting of this wood-fired pie place is a pizza party waiting to happen. It has a bright space with psychedelic paint swirls on the ceiling, long communal tables, dangling light fixtures made from beer bottles, a skee-ball machine, and lots of taps. There’s another (tiny) Masonry location in Queen Anne, but the newer Fremont one has a larger dining room with more group hang potential, as well as a patio for warm-weather pints.
Since the pizzas here are on the smaller side, we endorse filling your table with them and engaging in a civilized slice swap, as you pass around everything from charred margherita pies to ones topped with buttery taleggio, mushrooms, thyme, and pancetta. Throw in a few tangy dijon-forward caesars and the best meatballs in the city, and we can guarantee a successful group dinner, or your money back. Just kidding—we don’t have the authority to be able to do that.
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The Masonry’s caesar has a terrific, mustardy tang that clings to romaine like Alex Honnold to El Capitan. Shavings of parmesan and housemade focaccia croutons add welcome salt and crunch.
These are the best meatballs in Seattle. Made from a blend of pork and dry-aged beef, they’re tender and ever so springy with a little kick of heat, served in a pool of marinara topped with grated parmesan. If you left the premises without having had these, you wasted your time (that is, if you’re a meat-eater).
A simple, well-executed take on a classic, complete with crushed tomato, fresh mozzarella, and snipped basil on a soft crust covered in char bubbles. The pie is also sprinkled with coarsely-chopped raw garlic, so if you’re not into that, or you happen to be a vampire, ask them to nix it.
Mushroom O.G. Pizza
Seemingly hand-selected with the same care as Clue′s casting director, the combination of toppings on this white pie is pretty much perfect: roasted criminis, earthy thyme, and gooey taleggio that does both jobs of cheese and sauce. You have the option to add pancetta, and you should—because this pizza (and everything in life) greatly benefits from some smoky pork.