Friends dreamt of bringing great food and community to Lake Forest Park, where few restaurant options exist. The result? Cozy neighborhood hangout The Local 104. The name is an ode to State Route 104, a 32-mile stretch that runs from Lake Forest Park to Port Townsend. And their pizza is a 10-day journey you'll want to know about.
Tony Vujovich, chef and co-owner, met his business partner and co-operator Margaret Edwins six years ago through a mutual friend. They quickly discovered a common interest in cooking, art and style.
"I was impressed by the way she thought and her previous experience as owner and chef of 611 Supreme in Capitol Hill," he says. "In collaboration with friends and neighbors, we purchased a building, remodeled it and sought to create a place the community could enjoy a great experience."
Today, The Local 104 is unique to the North End, with a sit-down, table service restaurant (plus a covered, dog-friendly patio) that boasts a laid-back vibe and fantastic food, beer (30 rotating taps plus cider), wine and cocktails.
"The atmosphere is very important to Margaret and me," Vujovich explains.
At the eatery, they cook from scratch and source from local purveyors, many of whom grow, sell or produce along the scenic 104. The menu is anchored around the wood-fired pizza oven, and also features a variety of seasonal small plates, salads and sandwiches.
"Having worked with farmers and producers before opening The Local 104, keeping it small and local makes sense to me, as it is not only who we represent, but who we are," Vujovich explains. "Aside from pizza (my first love), I really enjoy making ice cream as it lets me explore seasons, textures and be creative."
He also loves to pickle just about anything, his favorite being Rainier cherries.
"They are so crisp and are a huge burst of flavor," he says.
The eatery has also become known for its scrumptious pizzas that take 10 days to make "from dough to done."
"After years of trial and error," Vujovich shares, "the longer fermentation process makes a lighter and more flavorful product than traditionally shorter gestation periods. The long cold fermentation creates a lighter texture and a more fully developed flavor. It takes longer than your average pizza dough, but it is so worth it."
At the moment, Vujovich's favorite meal on the menu is the Walla Walla Walla pizza, accompanied by a pint of Jellyfish Smack IPA.
"The Walla Walla Walla is an onion water crust, with caramelized Walla Walla onion jam and roasted Walla Walla onions on top," he explains. "The whole thing is covered with fior di latte, grana padano and fontina cheeses. I love the way it highlights Washington’s official vegetable and the seasonality of it."
Clams with basil pistou will be on the menu this summer, too.
Other venue highlights include the restaurant's corner wine shop, inspired by Margaret’s love of travel and 20-plus years in the restaurant industry.
"From terroir-driven wine to biodynamic and organic producers to independent vignerons, we love showcasing and recommending some great wine finds," Vujovich comments. "We host seasonal wine and spirit tastings and offer curated holiday wine kits perfect for gifts." (Most wine- and cocktail-centered events get promoted via Facebook.)
During their first springtime event, an amaro tasting will take place Saturday, June 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. The gathering features local amaro makers Sennzafinne Libations — and husband and wife team Gillian and Joey, longtime Seattle restaurant and bartending folks. It will feature "an amaro flight, specialty cocktails and a chance to learn all about amaros with this lovely couple."
The Local 104 is also in the process of planning a recurring summer market with local artisans, like one they ran this past winter.
"Local Hood Canal clams mean Northwest summer to me," Vujovich reflects. "Sitting outside in our back garden, eating clams and charred bread with one of our amazing white wines and feeling the sunshine."
When asked his favorite part of the job, Vujovich says, "Most nights, I cook something special for the staff after service is finished. We share a meal that lets me try out new ideas and relax. We connect with each other, hear what worked during service and share ideas. It's important to Margaret and me that this is a place where people feel valued and supported."
Corinne Whiting is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. Follow her work and adventures here.