Pine Lake Pizzeria: The secret’s in the dough

When all four Salmeri men are in the kitchen together at Pine Lake Pizzeria, it can get a little crazy, to say the least. “It’s controlled havoc,” Andrew Salmeri said of working with his three sons, Joe, 28, Brandon, 26 and Drew, 18.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2008 1:00am
  • Business
From left

From left

Editor’s note: Last month, the Reporter featured several Issaquah families in business. Today, we give you a glimpse of two Plateau family businesses.

When all four Salmeri men are in the kitchen together at Pine Lake Pizzeria, it can get a little crazy, to say the least.

“It’s controlled havoc,” Andrew Salmeri said of working with his three sons, Joe, 28, Brandon, 26 and Drew, 18.

On many evenings, Andrew will be working with the dough, Drew will be on the “make” line and Joe and Brandon will be working the ovens.

“You’ve got four Italians in a little space,” Andrew said, and the four joked that their hectic kitchen would make a great reality show.

“If you didn’t know us, in the heat of battle — it might be a little scary,” Joe said, with a bit of a wicked grin.

Andrew was a fisherman in Alaska for 27 years, before helping launch the Tony Maroni pizza chain. Andrew was the landlord for the Kirkland Tony Maroni’s, then later opened his own location in Renton. When Joe was a sophomore at Issaquah, he worked at the Pine Lake Tony Maroni’s for several years, and the owner asked whether Andrew and his family would like to buy the restaurant.

“Joe said, ‘Dad, this is what I want to do,’” Andrew said, so the family decided to go for it. They purchased the store in 2000, and changed the name to Pine Lake Pizzeria.

“A lot of people said (changing the name) was a bad idea, but we took a chance and it’s made it for us,” Andrew said. “Our business has almost doubled since the name change.

The restaurant delivers to a five-mile radius. About 68 percent of orders are deliveries, with the rest as carry out.

Asked whether they ever get tired of pizza, the four men smile.

“When I’m hungry, I’ll always eat pizza,” Joe said.

They’ve helped develop specialties such as the Polynesian that Brandon came up with because he doesn’t like onions, cheesy bread and calzone offerings. Not everything works, they add — pastas were deemed a “flop,” and dropped from the menu.

The “baby” of the family, Drew, is headed off to study mechanical engineering at the University of Portland this week, so his departure will knock the family foursome to three.

“I really like the atmosphere here,” Drew said. “And, it’s better than having an actual boss.”

Aside from the fun vibe, dedicated employees and loyal customers, the family attributes their success to the fact that they refuse to skimp on quality ingredients.

“There are three things you need to make a great pizza: dough, sauce and cheese,” Andrew said. “The hardest one of the three to get right is dough.”

To tackle that problem, they worked with a Seattle company over the course of a year to develop “Pizza Perfect,” a product containing flour, spices and yeast. The premixed product cut their dough-making process significantly. Now, they add water, mix, and then let the dough rise in refrigerated trays for four days.

“There’s a lot more science in it than people realize,” Andrew said.

To bake their “perfect” dough, the Salmeris special-order gas deck ovens from an old Italian family in New York. Andrew says that’s a significant departure from the conveyor-style ovens that many pizzerias use today.

“It’s a real art working these ovens,” Joe said. All four men lifted their forearms to show off burns from the ovens, which burn at 600 degrees.

The family has talked about whether to add another store or expand someday, but haven’t made any definite decision, Andrew said.

“I’ve learned that more isn’t always better.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Business

Stock photo
Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

Eastside King County restaurant owners discuss challenges with U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene at Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond. (Photo credit: Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
Restaurant owners discuss labor difficulties with U.S Rep. Suzan DelBene

Experienced service and kitchen staff are reportedly hard to hire as food service reopens.

Dave and Buster's restaurant and entertainment venue looks to hire 130 people to staff its Bellevue venue, set to open in August. Photo courtesy Dave and Busters.
Dave and Buster’s hiring 130 for August opening in Bellevue

Dave and Buster’s restaurant and entertainment venue opens in downtown Bellevue on… Continue reading

Images of dishes from Issaquah’s Umi Cafe posted on the SMORS page. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Ho)
Facebook page promotes minority-owned restaurants across Puget Sound region

Miya Nazzaro used to be a member of Facebook pages that were… Continue reading

The Moe Vegan food truck serves meals at the city of Kent’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 21, 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
King County fire marshals offer regulatory relief to food trucks

39 fire authorities have reportedly agreed to standardize fire codes and inspections.

Cash Cards Unlimited partners, left: Nick Nugwynne, right: Cassius Marsh (photo credit: Cash Cards Unlimited)
Former Seahawks player Cassius Marsh cashes in on trading cards

Marsh and his friend open physical and online trading card store as collectibles boom amid pandemic.

Teaser
First large-scale, human composting facility in the world will open in Auburn

“It’s what nature meant us to do. We just do it faster.”

Whole Foods grocery store entrance (Shutterstock)
King County considers grocery store worker hazard pay for those in unincorporated areas

The King County Metropolitan Council will vote during its next meeting on… Continue reading

Screenshot
WA Democrats consider new tax on billionaires

Plan could raise $5 billion from fewer than 100 taxpayers. Detractors fear it could drive Washington’s wealthiest out of state.

Last summer, people took advantage of the outdoor dining along First Avenue between Gowe and Titus streets in downtown Kent. In Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Photo courtesy of Kent Downtown Partnership
Restaurant reprieve: State to relax some indoor restrictions

On Monday, area restaurants and certain entertainment venues may resume indoor service, the governor said.

Stock photo
State Senate passes $1.7 billion in unemployment insurance tax relief

Targets relief to the most affected businesses; helps low-wage workers by raising their benefits

Jason Wilson is a James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of The Lakehouse in Bellevue. Courtesy photo
James Beard Award winner wants to cook with you – virtually

Chef Jason Wilson can give customers an interactive dining experience in their own homes.