There’s a vibrant Little Italy in Edmonds, playing fast and loose with dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings for a winning effect.

Artisans here sure know how to make a mean pie, complete with those coveted cheese blisters, lip-smacking sauces, inventive, seasonal toppings, and a charred, chewy crust around the edges.

America’s favorite food is a thing here, with restaurants serving up slices and whole pies worth writing home about. You’ll definitely come back to savor the flavors again and again.

Recently, award-winning mixologist Niles Peacock took top honors in the non-traditional category — Northwest Region for his popular “My Hot Date” at the world’s largest pizza-only trade show, the March 20-24, 2022 Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. K5’s “Evening Magazine” co-hosts Kim Holcomb and Angela Poe Russell even came down to his Kitchen & Bar in Salish Crossing to film him making his winning pizza for an April 7th telecast. Cool, right?

Peacock’s dough is no ordinary affair, either. It’s made with a 128-year-old starter gifted to him by Sourdough Willy (Will Grant) over in Kingston.

Sourdough requires hands-on finesse, intuition, devotion, and time — a tricky balance of technique and feel, creativity and tradition — in the same vein as jazz (late avant-garde bassist Gary Peacock just happens to be Niles’ dad).

In Niles’ expert hands, pizza-making becomes moving art, worth perfecting…going the extra mile for, just as he does for his fiery, magical, crowd-pleasing craft cocktails.

His “Hot Date” mixes mozzarella and gorgonzola with bronzed dates, olive oil, and a swirly drizzle of reduced balsamic for that sweet-savory finish.

Don’t sleep on his classic, N.Y.-style pizza, either, with little discs of pepperoni nestled in orange cheese blisters and the tangiest tomato sauce this side of Brooklyn. Peacock should bottle that sauce and sell it.

The Pizza Expo win has only spurred him on to spin even more fanciful riffs on the humble pizza, and we are here for it.

Niles Peacock Kitchen & Bar isn’t the only game in town. Pizza rules in Edmonds, whether you’re in the mood for traditional Italian-American or a slight detour to the Greek Isles, or somewhere in-between the here and now and space-age hereafter.

Shubert Ho and Andrew Leckie’s latest creation is a modern Italian show-stopper. Fire & The Feast on 526 Main St. downtown features wood-fired pizza, pasta, and roasted, braised meats that look pretty as a picture, and taste just as divine. 

Chef Micah DeNunzio and his team are always dreaming up new variations on the theme, changing with the seasons and the tastes, offering something for everyone: Salmone, Artichoke & Spring Onion, Duck Confit, Pepperoni & Fennel Tomato Jam, Bacon, Egg, and Cheese for brunch, Spicy Salsiccia, Summer Squash, KC BBQ… Gluten-free, too.

The tomato sauce in FIVE Restaurant’s (Westgate, 650 Edmonds Way) pizzas packs ‘em in every time. Go for the Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, and Margherita, but stay for a little extra. Like the Bartlett Pear, Carne Asada, and Pancetta, with sweet spicy peppers.

Award-winning, top-ranked NW favorite, Pagliacci Pizza (10200 Edmonds Way), may be a Seattle chain, but the pizza’s the real deal, hand-tossed and locally sourced, with a medium-thin crust you can eat on its own — maybe dipped in marinara — and the right ratio of cheese to sauce to topping. A large pie, half-pepperoni/half-cheese, will do you.

But do step out of your comfort zone for some seasonal gems: Matador Primo (‘Nduja spicy salami, Manchego and mozzarella, Castelvetrano olives), Tricolore Combo (burrata, sea salt, pesto), The Rocket (prosciutto, arugula, mozzarella), Goat Cheese Primo (Laura Chel’s goat cheese, sun-ripened tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, garlic olive oil).

Venice Pizza (9695 Firdale Ave.) goes hard for authentic, Italian-spun visions of art and taste. The selection is huge, and intriguing, from the familiar (pepperoni, plain cheese, vegetarian) to the exotic (Berona — broccoli and chicken with white sauce, Bianca — roasted garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, spinach). Try them all.

Greece influences Kebella’s Pizza & Pasta on 630 Edmonds Way. Hefty, thick, and full of flavor, the varieties are nearly endless, with 19 combos and 11 veggie selections to choose from. Not to mention the 30-inch, Super XL Pizza (24-hour notice required, dine-in only), available with 30 different kinds of toppings, including vegan and vegetarian options. Split an Edmonds Special — green peppers, diced tomatoes, sunflower seeds, feta, black olives, onions, mushrooms — with friends.

Greece also plays a huge role in Romeo’s Pizza, 21110 76th Ave. W. Pizzas come in three sizes, small (10”), medium (12”), and large (16”), and a wild array of toppings, sauces, and flavors. Try the Zorba, a gyro pizza, or the Greek Sailor, a spanakopita embedded in a crust. Mix and match your own pie, with or without a gluten-free crust (10”).

What’s a night out on the town without a trip to Demetris WoodStone Taverna (101 Main St.) for all the Mediterranean perks? They serve classic flatbread pizzas, such as Pesto Chicken, Pear Gorgonzola, Grilled Steak, Prawn and Dungeness Crab Dip, and Brie & Apples. Pair with a suitable craft cocktail for an unforgettable time, well spent.

Leftcraft (519 Main St.) and Salish Sea Brewing Co. & Restaurant (518 Dayton St.) also elevate the cocktail-friendly flatbread into artisan pizza territory.

Visit Leftcraft for Happy Hour — Wed.-Fri., 3 p.m.-5 p.m. — to enjoy Spicy Kimchi Flatbread with soy-glazed pork belly and white cheddar (yes!), or Pear & Bleu Cheese Flatbread (ooh!) as a sophisticated indulgence.

Salish Brewing’s menu is a foodie’s idea of heaven. With beer! Double-down on the flatbreads for a singularly NW sensation: smoked salmon, sour cream, crispy capers, dill, and pickled onions…arugula, honey, ricotta, dates, garlic spread…artichoke, Parmesan, Mama Lil’s peppers…pepperoni, cheese, confit cherry tomato…

Garlic Jim’s Pizza (9796 Edmonds Way), with locations in Washington, Oregon, and Texas, does regular and gluten-free pizzas with all the usual and unusual fixings. The crust is puffy and chewy and crispy golden around the edges, sturdy enough for a load of toppings. Jim’s Smokin’ Sweet BBQ Chicken and Nutty Chipotle, with a hit of cashews, sound amazing.

The artisan pizza coming out of Epulo Bistro (B 190 Sunset Ave. W. — Salish Crossing) packs a punch with every bite. 

The Giardino fuses garlic olive oil with zucchini, roasted bell pepper, Portabella mushroom, and fontina, exquisitely delicate, yet hearty. Oh, but wait, how about the Sausage & Mushroom? House-made spicy Calabrian sausage fortifies this meaty knockout for an Old World tribute. Then, there’s always the Prosciutto Arugula, everyone’s favorite, enriched by luxurious, earthy truffle oil.

Who wants pizza?

Featured image: Niles Peacock holds court for “Evening Magazine’s” April 7th episode | Brent Garner
Additional images: More from the “Evening Magazine” shoot | Brent Garner photography, Niles Peacock’s pizza and cocktails | Carol Banks Weber, Fire & The Feast