I was only half-way serious when suggesting postscript. Postscript is a nice format that you can write by hand. And it does meet your "need [for] more print-specific control."
Since you are sensible you don't want to write postscript by hand, but I don't know of any tools that help you produce better postscript than pdf.
(For technical reasons postscript is the superior format though. PDF is a prematurely optimized postscript. pdf-files usually have a smaller file size than ps files, but .ps.gz easily beats pdf, and you can change it with your favorite editor if you want.)