Bellingham has a few great spots that serve up their particular delicious version of the cheese-laden pie. New to the mix, however, is Fat Pie Pizza, a bustling joint that specializes in the infamous Chicago-style crust, as well as the lesser-known Detroit crust.
Owner James Swift dreamed up Fat Pie Pizza after holding a few pizza parties for friends at his own house. The house itself has several professional pizza ovens and his chefs made pizzas often for guests. Swift’s assistant Charlotte Remick said Swift often goes on a “quest” to remake something he once tried on a trip or even from his childhood. He won’t stop until he tastes the best recipe of the food he is replicating. He did this with donuts, ice cream and now, pizza.
Swift heads the Raptor Group, a company that owns several other food businesses in town including Rocket Donuts and Acme Ice Cream. It only makes sense then that Fat Pie Pizza landed at the corner of 11th and Harris, right next to the new location of Rocket Donuts. Lacey Thompson, Executive Chef of Raptor Group for nine years, took on the challenge of making the perfect crust and developing flavors of pizza to go along with it. Not to be confused with the pan pizza served at baseball games, Chicago-style crust is tall, but not dense.
Thompson said that she and Swift worked on creating the perfect crust for two years. “We were constantly trying new combinations of flours, hydration, oils and seasonings,” Thompson said. “What we were looking for was something akin to a pastry dough with the flaky quality of a croissant, but the strength of a traditional Chicago-style pizza crust.”
Unlike other treasured Bellingham pizzerias, Swift has no intention of doing a thin or hand-tossed crust at Fat Pie Pizza. “We are trying to fill a niche,” Restaurant Manager Kim Mindnich said. “Nobody else is doing Chicago-style in Bellingham.”
Mindnich described the pizza as a “Chicago-Bellingham style.” The pizzas come out of the kitchen about three inches tall with different toppings and cheese. They are smothered in a layer of fresh tomato sauce and surrounded by golden, cornmeal crust.
The Wrigley Field, for instance, has meatballs, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, mozzarella and the classic red sauce. Though the toppings and cheese are heavy, the crust remains flaky and uniquely flavorful. Thompson said the Detroit style came later in the concept for Fat Pie. Similar to a Sicilian-style pizza, the Detroit crust is thick and tender. Cheese is mixed in with the dough and baked in a way that comes out with an almost fried bottom. This makes the bottom crispy and what Thompson described as “deliciously cheesy.”
The friendly staff emulates Swift’s enthusiasm for the pizza and cuts the first slice of pizza tableside. With three patios, Fat Pie Pizza will be a prime casual dining setting this summer.
Fat Pie Pizza
1015 Harris Ave., Bellingham