Take a walk down South Third Street and you’ll find Renton’s newest restaurant and only ‘upscale corner pizza parlor.’
A mixture of creativity, craigslist.com finds, time-tested restaurant talent, and a passion for a vibrant downtown, the concept of Smoking Monkey Pizza began with David Graves who sought the support of longtime restaurateur, Gene Sens, in a joint venture.
Following much anticipation, the co-owners announced this week that Smoking Monkey will open for business on Saturday, Jan. 7.
Sens and Graves described the past weeks as the restaurant came together, as filled with dozens of trips to , Costco and a successful taste-testing on Thursday night.
Many curious passers-by have stopped in and peaked through the windows.
“It’s almost a look of joy,” Sens said of the curiosity of those who have stopped by, and of the excitement of something new in downtown.
Sens has been an integral part of Renton’s culinary scene since 1983 and currently owns with his wife, and is a partner in and at .
Smoking Monkey is Graves’ first foray into restaurant ownership, but has been in the restaurant and wine business for years, working as a dish washer in high school, at another restaurant through college, worked at DeLille Cellars, as a wine distributor and then as a food broker.
While Graves came up with the Smoking Monkey Pizza concept, both brought ideas to the table and together established the finished product.
Sens chose to keep the menu simple: six ‘primi’ options, three pasta dishes and 11 ‘pizze’ varieties. Beer and wine will also be served pending the approval of their liquor license.
“Our philosophy is to just do a few things and do them well,” he said.
Graves and Sens have secured a professional pizza chef, also called a “pizzaiolo” from Bar del Corso in Seattle, and another pizzaiolo apprentice to bake pies in the open-style kitchen. Both chefs live in Renton.
The artisan pizza oven will deliver authentic Italian-style pies. Weighing in at nearly 5,000 pounds, Sens reinforced the floor to support the massive “Wood Stone” oven that was made in Bellingham, Wash. and purchased on Craiglist.com.
The oven can heat up to 1,000 °F and turn out a pizza in minutes with “crisp curst and a crumbly top.”
Ingredients will be local, when available. The wheat will come from Shepherd’s Grain in Eastern Washington, vegetables from Whistling Train Farms, and coffee from Seattle’s Caffe Umbria.
“We’re going for a farm-to-table kind of scenario,” Sens said.
The tomatoes, however, will hail from San Marzano, Italy.
The restaurant will first open for dinner, 4-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and eventually expand to include lunch.
The location — directly across from the , and kitty-corner from the new downtown Renton library — bodes well for other activates and culinary events, which will come in good time.
“We want to be a part of the community, but our first goal is to get established,” Sens said.
Smoking Monkey Pizza, est. Jan. 2012
613 S Third Street
Monday-Saturday 4-10 p.m.
(check back for expanded hours, coming soon)