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Lunchbox: Flattop Pizza + Pool

Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:07:29 AM AKST   Updated On: Oct 28 2013 12:26:20 PM AKDT
Lunchbox: Flattop Pizza + Pool

Lunchbox: Flattop Pizza + Pool

Flattop Pizza + Pool serves several varieties of large pizza, including this one ($19, prices vary) with half-and-half portions of the six-meat Powerline Pass recipe and the garlic-chicken Anchortown pie. (Chris Klint/KTUU-TV)

Flattop Pizza + Pool
600 W. 6th Ave.
Kitchen hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, noon to 1 a.m. Saturday, noon to midnight Sunday
$11-$21 per pizza

It’s taken me a little while back at work from a recent vacation in Chicago to get back into Lunchbox gear, but absence makes the heart grow fonder of all things -- especially Anchorage’s evolving food scene.

Flattop Pizza + Pool, the latest venture by the owners of nearby bars Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse and the SubZero Lounge, has been on my list ever since Rebecca Palsha paid the restaurant an Alaska Bites visit in July, during which she focused on its deep-dish pizza offerings. I just sampled those dense (and heavy) pies in their hometown, so I wanted to try the pizzeria’s more conventional offerings. Since I also wanted a second opinion, political reporter Austin Baird volunteered to accompany me and help down a pie.

The restaurant itself occupies a corner slot along the south side of 6th Avenue, not far from Humpy’s and a block north of the Dena’ina Center. It’s easy to miss from the street, which means you’re mainly likely to stop by if you either walk by or know where it is -- that said, 6th is a high-traffic area, and depending on when you go, parking can be a chore. We found a spot with relative ease on a weekday afternoon, parking across the street from the Dena’ina and walking north to the restaurant.

The façade at Flattop is dominated by large windows onto the street along both exterior walls, which lend a surprisingly airy ambience to the establishment. Two long, shallow tables lined with high chairs along the windows take advantage of the light, with several pool tables and the maneuvering room around them taking up the bulk of the floor space between the walls and the well-stocked bar around which the dining area is built. A few normal tables and chairs are tucked away into the room’s corners, for those who want to keep their feet on the floor.

A one-page menu is almost puritanical in its focus on pizza, with a quartet each of appetizers, salads and desserts the only distraction to be found from Flattop’s signature dish. Nearly a dozen custom pies, including the pizzeria’s own take on deep dish, adorn the menu alongside build-your-own selections drawing from an ingredient list which includes seven kinds of cheese alone. Rather than hazard assembling something from scratch Austin and I placed ourselves in the hands of the professionals, ordering a large pizza ($19) split half-and-half between two of the recipes, Anchortown and Powerline Pass. While the menu warns to allow half an hour for deep-dish pizzas, our standard-crust order was brought to the table in about 20 minutes.

The first slice I tried was of the Anchortown, a white-sauce chicken pizza heavy on the vegetables. Cilantro, red onions and the pie’s garlic-ranch sauce drove much of its flavor, playing well against the calmer base of grilled chicken, mozzarella-cheddar cheese blend, and diced Roma tomatoes. It’s a fairly dense pile of items for a chicken pizza, and it felt markedly more substantial than similar recipes I’ve sampled. Austin, a fellow white-pizza fan, was of a similar opinion but compared it to red-sauce pizzas rather than its own breed: “Definitely it was good, it was light -- lighter for pizza.”

I soon found out why Austin’s praise was so faint, though, when I took a slice of the Powerline Pass out of the pan. Easily the most ruthlessly carnivorous item on the menu, it begins with a simple marinara-mozzarella base upon which it serves up no fewer than six flavors of meat: flat cuts of Canadian bacon, salami and pepperoni, neatly layered beneath a sprinkled coating of hamburger, house sausage and bacon. While I took a bite with some trepidation, given a deep-dish slice in Chicago that simply piled toppings on for their own sake, I soon reached for a second piece -- the Powerline’s flavors are almost artfully balanced, its richness countered by just-right amounts of each meat. The pie’s strongest single flavor was the marinara, which almost stole the show: chunky with tomato pieces and an aggressive hint of spice, the sauce beneath it all nearly rivaled a good salsa for power and freshness.

While Flattop certainly fits into a specific niche, implicitly declared by its menu -- if you’re not in the mood for pizza, you should wait until you are -- it offers a very fresh take on a food that’s nearly become a commodity in Anchorage. Austin declared the pizza “better than Moose’s Tooth,” a bold claim I’m not quite ready to make, but the elements are definitely there to make it happen. I’ll be visiting again in the future, to give that deep-dish pie the try it deserves on an empty stomach.