Restaurant Review: Smoking Monkey Pizza in Renton, WA

This is a fun little restaurant with excellent pizza. The ingredients are fresh and flavorful, and the assortment of pizzas is very nice.

We visited it on Jan 4th at a quiet time, so we don’t know how crowded it could get. There aren’t many tables but you could get pizza to go, if you can’t find seating.

The restaurant is a family friendly, Italian based cuisine. with friendly staff. The name apparently was something that was just sticking in the owners’ heads after seeing a monkey on a street corner next to a cigarette vending machine. I don’t know if the monkey actually was smoking or what it has to do with good food, but the name is sticky.

To start, we had a caprese salad. I personally love this salad when it is done well, and this one was.  A caprese salad is tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, on a bed of greens and doused with a balsamic vinegar, olive-oil dressing. Add a little salt and fresh pepper and it is heaven. The things that make a caprese salad are the basil (has to be fresh and somewhat prominent), the mozzarella being the right size (not much bigger than the end of your index finger, so it is bite sized), and a counter-point green such as escarole or arugula.

We ordered a Roma Bianca pizza (white truffle oil, pecorino, and rosemary)  which I loved. The rosemary was not too strong, blended in well with the pecorino and the truffle oil added a lot of depth to it. My wife wasn’t so impressed and thought it tasted like a cheese sandwich, so keep your expectations in line with what you order. A friend of mine once ordered a pepperoni pizza in a town in Italy, and was surprised to find that there wasn’t a slice of pepperoni on it; pepperoni being red bell peppers there. He didn’t enjoy it, though it was an exceptional pizza.

We also ordered a Norton pizza. I never found out how this one got its name [Open Question] but it is a typical pizza. My friend in Italy would have enjoyed this as it does have a nice spicy pepperoni with a San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella and pecorino cheeses.

The crusts on the pizza’s we ordered were thin and done in a fiery hot brick oven that you can see working. We just wish that the plates were warm (see hot plate blog entry)

I would go back to this restaurant again. Happily and hungrily.

It gets a tentative score of 248 out of 310. I am working on my rating system and will publish the details and scoring card soon.

Ship It!

  • Gustavo Frias

    I can see why you tasted like little of Italy in your pies that you ate. The recipes came from my Italian friends Giovanni and Diogo, both lived in Portugal. I worked and was trained by these great pizzaiolo ‘s. Smoking Monkey pizza was first model and Elemental Pizza is my second model(more Neopalitan design). The Norton was named after one of Dave’s friends (part owner). So basically we took my recipes and just changed the names. Most of them were fun names! Anyways I hope that cleared up your question about the name and pizza history. Anymore questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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