Story and photos by Stephanie Chacharon
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
We swung by the future site of Pizzeria 22 today to catch up with Cary Kemp — owner/operator of West Seattle’s one and only, soon-to-open wood-fired pizza joint.
We broke the news about the future pizzeria in December, when Cary signed the lease on the location at 4213 SW College, then published an update in January. Since a few months have passed, it was time to check back to get a feel for the space and an update on opening plans.
Cary, a laid-back entrepreneur who’s passionate about all things Italian, walked us through the site, sidestepping busy electricians and building materials. He pointed out the vaulted ceilings — a formerly enclosed treasure he discovered while previewing the space — restored vintage windows (shown above – Cary says they’re 103 years old and believes they’ll create a dark, comfortable vibe), the planned home of an oversized painting of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, and the work-in-progress bar that spans that length of the restaurant.
He envisions the front area serving as the bar, offering old-world Italian wines to pair with old-world style pizza, a mix of local and European beers, and liquor. The west wall of the restaurant is lined with bench seating and will feature a large mirror to make the space feel roomier. The entire restaurant will seat around 36 to 40.
Then Cary showed us the pièce de résistance — the handmade, red-tiled oven imported from Naples, weighing in at 2,500 pounds and (soon to be) burning at around 850 degrees. Cary plans to repaint the front of the oven to display the name of his restaurant.
The exterior might not look like much for now, but Cary has big plans. He told us he intends to redo the façade to distinguish the restaurant from the other businesses on the block— replacing the door, mimicking the gray paint scheme of Yen Wor Village (on the corner of California and College), adding a flower pot or two, and hoisting a giant neon sign bearing images of a pizza and wooden paddle and the number “22.”
Cary also plans to have sidewalk tables, providing spillover seating in the warm summer months and a place for takeout customers to wait for their orders.
Cary’s especially excited about Pizzeria 22’s new sister restaurant, its namesake establishment in Naples, Italy. Thanks to a relationship forged between the owner of the Naples locale and Cary’s business partner — Mike McConnell of Via Tribunali and Caffé Vita — the two restaurants will share more than just a name. Cary plans to decorate with pictures and memorabilia from the Naples restaurant to create an authentic feel, as well as launching an informal work foreign exchange between the two pizzerias.
(Front of the pizzeria, and east wall; the space at the end of the bar, up to the door, will be the designated “bar” area)
Asked about the status of the prep work, Cary told us the electricity and plumbing work will be done by the end of this week, prompting the start of the interior finish work. If all goes according to plan, Pizzeria 22 will fire up its oven in June.
Interested in working at Pizzeria 22? Contact Cary at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in eating/drinking there? Come June, keep an eye on 4213 SW College — Cary told us he probably won’t advertise an opening date. “I’ll probably just open the doors one Monday and let people figure it out,” he says.