The Bar: Coming off over a month of franchises and packed houses, Belltown Pizza (Belltown, 2422 First Avenue) was a relaxing return to the simpler world of independent quizzes.
Belltown Pizza draws a relatively small turnout, averaging about 10 teams a week. However, a factor that Trivia Tuesdays seems to overlook all too often is a bar's capacity to actually seat its contestants to any degree of comfort. Belltown Pizza not only manages this convincingly, but also provides the calm, dimly lit ambience it usually upholds on weeknights, making it quite possibly the most romantic trivia night in Seattle. (Disclaimer: Seattle Weekly takes no responsibility for any catastrophic interpersonal failures to come about through suggesting a pub quiz for a first date.)Unfortunately, Belltown Pizza's awesome acoustics work a little too well when it comes to discussing questions -- people talking about answers at a totally reasonable volume could be sniped from three-to-four tables down.
The Quiz: (Mondays, 7PM, Free to Play) Another upside to Belltown's smaller turnout is that Quizmaster Shawn will talk first-timers through the quiz's format upon receiving their answer sheet. To save him the trouble for Trivia Tuesday followers, there are four rounds of ten questions, all bound by a common theme ("Guns and Ammunition" was this week's motif.) The first round is generally an easy round to acclimate teams to the quiz. The second round is generally the hardest round of the quiz, in which the highest scoring team earns a free round of drinks. The third round is an audio round, usually playing a song and asking to identify the band or artist who composed it.
Finally, Shawn claims the last round is the goofiest, bawdiest round of trivia, where Shawn hopes that teams have gotten drunk enough to have a better sense of humor about their questions. The fourth round is where questions can be a little more liberal with the weekly theme and usually include a few multi-part questions for teams vying for the First Place prize of Belltown Pizza gift certificates.
After every quiz, "Thank You For Being a Friend" plays while Shawn thanks the entire bar staff and anyone at Belltown Pizza who had even the most auxiliary part of business that night. It's a sweet, honest gesture that wraps up a solid staple of a tight-knit bar.
The Host: Shawn started at Ballard's Molly Maguire's, but good friend and charismatic bartender Eric Ellsworth got him into the position after Belltown Pizza lost its old host. Since then, Shawn has been hosting for a few years now with the occasional summer break that has more to do with noise ordinances and reduced turn-out and nothing to do with host exhaustion or ennui.
Shawn says he would love to expand, proclaiming every moment of his life not spent hosting at Belltown Pizza is either spent scheming for next week or weeping into his hands.
Furthermore, he's always open to new questions or categories, -- even if he has no intention of using certain suggestions, it gives him a better idea of what categories his crowds want and to what degree of intensity they want them.
Drink Specials: Belltown Pizza offers bottles of Fat Tire at $2.50 throughout the entire quiz.
Special Effects: The audio round is a nice touch, but perhaps the crown jewel of Belltown Pizza's quiz night is the elusive "Bartender's Challenge," posited by the aforementioned Eric Ellsworth whenever he has an inspired bit of trivia to randomly insert into the quiz. Some weeks he won't say anything, but this particular night had three inputs, with prizes ranging from a shot of Jaegermeister to a Cheesecake Factory gift certificate.
It's this sort of spontaneity that Shawn says puts them over franchises like Geeks Who Drink -- GWD might ration prizes between rounds, but here you really get the idea that even the most failing of teams have the chance to take home a little extra something at any given moment, so long as they keep their ears perked.
The Verdict: With a warm, comfortable atmosphere, delicious pizza available by the slice and an amiable host, Belltown Pizza's trivia night definitely feels like one of the least stressful trivia nights in Seattle. Questions can be a little on the easy side, but not so much to lose more seasoned players' attention. If you want a solid, laidback night of trivia as opposed to a mind-crushing trial of arcane knowledge coupled with screaming nerds, Belltown Pizza is a great place to unwind while still keeping your wits about you.