Inside Moto’s Enchanted Cottage of Detroit-Style Pizza
Tarts with crabs, Lechon Kawali and vegetables with (vegan) garlic sauce.
T.The small bedroom The house looked promising in the listing photos, but when Lee Kindell made his way to this block of West Seattle, just off Alaska Junction, he got the full picture: a 1950 cottage, huddled, improbable, and mouse-like , between two newer mid-mid houses. rises. Kindell was 15 years away from any kind of restaurant job; The house was a residence where there were no intricacies like stoves, hoods, or commercial stoves. He glanced at it and called his wife, Nancy Gambin, with the obvious conclusion: this was a pizza place waiting to be passed.
Opened for takeout in February, Moto sold 6 “by 9” Detroit-style pizza. The Seattle sport of floating online to order coveted comfort food might as well be in a league of its own at this point, but Moto’s cakes sell out ahead of a blizzard with the ferocity of the salt. This is partly because Kindell mixes their dough by hand, a process that results in a Jedi-level dough structure, but only barely 120 cakes a night. “I could swallow my pride and have to go to a blender,” he admits. “I’m wrestling with it right now.”
Today the house is painted matt black and fairy lights illuminate the slatted front yard in a brick ravine. It’s a fairytale fairytale, but with a gentle serve and joyful children instead of crime and dark twists. Kindell’s first act, after getting the keys, was to buy a pair of reusable balloons – the sturdy kind that car dealerships wave to. He climbed the roof of the hut and tied it to the sturdy brick chimney. The allusion to the film Up is not exactly subtle, but it is deserved. Moto offers its own escape fantasy, but the real magic is the pizza.
Kindell’s dislike The rally is the only non-Detroit thing about his pizza. Motos Pan Pies start with a 100 year old sourdough starter named Betty (also the name of Kindell’s motorcycle). Highly hydrated dough keeps thick crusts tender. He mixes his own cheese with hard-to-find Wisconsin bricks in a lead role that is crucial to the buttery authenticity of the upper Midwest. Steel baking pans, the walls of which are high and hot, melt the cheese around the edges until it bubbles and darkens into a kind of reversing force field – a crispy circumference that invites insatiable attacks. In the meantime, the oils in this cheese blend migrate to the bottom of the hot steel pan and gently crisp the bottom of each cake.
It is an unsuccessful fairy tale, but with a gentle serve and joyful children instead of crimes and dark twists.
All of these efforts mean that even simple cheese and pepperoni cakes can make a trip to West Seattle, Bridge, or No. But the best thing happens when Kindell goes back to its northwestern origins. After a lifelong crab in Washington’s waters, he had to think – what if you made a pizza … out of a crab bun? A feather-light pile of dungeness and a hint of lemon give this delicate meat an edge over all that melting Wisconsin cheese. Kindell swears the dill is just a substitute until he can feed sea beans.
To continue the Pixar lettering, one would think that all of this perfectionism would come from an Antoine Ego style pedant. Instead, it bursts from a self-taught pizza superfan who seems over and over again excited to make a living from it. Kindell’s obsession with pizza continued after working in a wood-fired oven at the farmers’ market a long time ago. He dragged his wife to distant New York neighborhoods, ventured to Italy – he even followed the chefs who took part in the international pizzamaking championships. A Detroit Pie took third place for one year. Kindell, now a scholar on the subject, was completely exhausted. “I had no idea what that pizza was.” Six years later he is still enthusiastic about Pan Pizza: “It’s pretty precise, but you can express yourself a lot.”
Moto’s pizza boss, dressed in black with a headscarf around his shaved head, could be considered a character actor with an IMDB story of roles like “tough guy in the bar”. But watch his joyful conversation with a young visitor over his Iron Man t-shirt and you’ll realize that the Disney soundtrack that pours out of the cottage on warm evenings isn’t just for kids.
Moto’s top seller, Mr. Pig, plays Lechon Kawali, the Filipino fried pork belly from Kindell’s Bremerton childhood. He treats chimichurri with pineapple and calamansi and curls this green sauce over it. Kindell takes care of the flourishes of tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar, which decorate the vegetarian “root” cake as well as the actual flavors – a smart combination of black olives, eaten mushrooms and surprisingly pickled walnuts. “To me, it’s art,” he says, and that’s another reason Moto’s practical creations remain limited. Inedible art surrounds Moto’s interior. The former living room, now painted white, shows energetic black line drawings (animals, pizza slogans, more than one up-reference) and frenetic neon drops.
Detroit-style cake – even based on Sicilian ancestry – has recently caught the nation’s attention. Kindell’s creations join a filling parade of local riffs: limited-production rectangles in Sunny Hill, the Sunday special in Cornelly, a cheery Chicago-Detroit hybrid in Breezy Town. Those who do know might go looking Maillard Reaction that Kindell achieves with those hot steel pans or the conveyor belt furnace, which ensures temperatures that are as constant as with a military drill. But enjoying this pizza for its technical advances is like cranking up Motown just to enjoy the chord changes.
After a lifetime of crab in Washington’s waters, he had to think – what if you made a pizza … out of a crab bun?
Moto’s pizza can be elusive, but the soft-serve machine up front welcomes last-minute visits. Kindell and Gambin made room in their DIY budget for a hard-to-find device that directs the flavors of your choice onto the swirling edges of an ordinary vanilla soft ice cream. Kindell presents these in “Motocones”, a piece of chimney cake in the Transylvanian style that could reveal his crazy scientist tendencies even more clearly than his pizza. His adaptation of the recipe from the 16th century wraps egg choux dough around a rolling pin and hangs it up for baking like a dessert rotisserie. Thick discs indicate cinnamon-dusted cuff bracelets with a pleasantly doughy center. A showcase in the front room shines with coconut or fruit pebbles or a chopped up gummy bear that is attached to the Motocone rims, like a round of Martinis from the 90s by Gonzo.
Before the pandemic, Kindell and Gambin owned a travel home in Belltown. When their livelihoods came to a standstill, the couple decided to pursue a dream that felt difficult even in the most difficult of times. But you don’t have to love happy endings to admit: a holdout cottage filled with street art, soft serve, and some of the city’s most notable pizzas is better than any Pixar movie.
The official and highly scientific term for the chemical reaction that browns foods into a more desirable version of themselves – fried steak, toasted marshmallows, and crispy, blackened cheese.