“Pineapple” is a dirty word for some pizza purists. But in most languages, it’s not really a word at all. In many countries, “Ananas” is the more common term for the fruit, and it’s also the name of a new pizzeria from a Seattle chef who, we might add, has invented a new type of fusion pizza based on Laotian cuisine.
“I originally wanted to call it Pineapple Pizza,” Khampaeng Panyathong, who recently opened Ananas Pizzeria on 8th Avenue, told the Capitol Hill Seattle blog. “There’s the whole debate about whether pineapple goes on pizza or not. Well, I believe pineapple goes on pizza. And you can’t walk into a place that says pineapple pizza and get mad that there’s pineapple on pizza.”
Of course, not everyone in Seattle knows that “ananas” means “pineapple,” but one look at the restaurant’s logo will give them a big, unmistakable hint. The second A in Ananas is shaped exactly like the tropical fruit. And if that’s not a dead giveaway, the décor has a pineapple theme as well.
Aside from Panyathong’s brazen defiance of the anti-pinappleists, Ananas Pizzeria stands out in a more compelling way: It’s heavily influenced by the cuisine of Laos, the chef’s native land. Panyathong is the culinary mastermind behind the Lao Burger, offered at Taurus Ox and Ox Burger restaurants, both Lao-inspired and hugely popular in Seattle. Now he’s bringing that sweet-hot Laotian touch to pizza.
Ananas Pizzeria held its soft opening November 15-18, promising to “take pizza to the next level with our delightful flavor combos designed to satisfy every palate.”
According to Eater Seattle, Panyathong didn’t even want to open a pizzeria until the 8th Avenue spot came open “and I felt like I had to have it. It was previously a pizza spot [called Primo], and they had a pizza deck oven. So that was all. It was that simple.”
Eater Seattle says Panyathong “more or less invented [Laotian pizza] on the fly, just as Taurus Ox more or less invented Laotian burgers (to much rejoicing).” According to the Ananas Pizzeria website, his signature Lao Pizza features pork-belly Lao sausage, bamboo shoots, cilantro, mozzarella, provolone and jaew tomato sauce (a type of Lao dipping sauce). The Eater Seattle article also mentions a ground pork that’s typically found in khao soi soup and tua nao, a fermented bean paste, although these aren’t specifically listed in the menu description on the website.
Additionally, a pie simply called Ananas features pineapple along with Canadian bacon, jalapeños, mozzarella, red sauce and a Japanese-style togarishi spice blend. The Birds Eye Honey pizza also appears to pack a spicy Laotian twist, with standard Italian-American toppings like pepperoni, red sauce, grana padano and mozzarella combined with a sweet and spicy birds-eye chili honey, made with birds-eye chilis that pack significant heat.
The Magic Mario, meanwhile, features two exotic mushrooms from East Asia—Hen of the Woods (maitake) and pickled shimejis—plus crimini mushrooms, thyme, truffle salt, white sauce, mozz and pecorino Romano.
Ananas Pizzeria is also described as a “dive bar,” meaning there will be craft cocktails, beers and wines on the menu, too. In fact, Panyathong seems to have modest ambitions for now. “We’re not trying to be the ‘best pizza in Seattle,’” he told Capitol Hill Seattle. “I’m just going to do what I do, use the best ingredients I can, and then see what happens from there.”