Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
Dove Vivi ranks among the top pizzerias in Portland when your average foodie, yelper, or google reviewer is calling the shots. For the purist/elitist, the idea of a cornmeal crust monopoly is rather obtuse. You're telling me there is no regular pizza, just cornmeal? Can the exclusive use of America's top crop outweigh the traditionalist prejudice? Can the lack of a flour-based crust yield adequate satisfaction? Only trained tastebuds and an open mind will know for sure.
In a confusing burst of adaptability, Dove Vivi offers slices of anything on their menu at any time. They are able to accomplish this by building slices to order; the premade cornmeal wedges are loaded with toppings and baked at the diner's request. This resulted in both a stunning array of topping choices and an absurdly long wait time. Opting for the daily special Potato and Pancetta ($4.25 cash, $4.75 credit), I bought in to the promise of fresh, well-prepared ingredients with seasonal flair.
After a stomach-croaking wait, the slice arrived. Its slight size for the price was shocking, as was the Chicago-style upsidedownyness of the ingredient arrangement. Herbed tomato sat atop a bed of crispy sizzled pancetta and silver dollar potato slices, while a blend of smoked and fresh mozzarella played the role of bottom layer sauce position ingredient. Rather than the anticipated corny flavor, there was a harmonious incorporation of corn into a rather mild, crisp crust. Fantasies of savory cornbread were quickly diffused.
The stewy tomato element was excessive and dominant, saved partially by a bright rosemary accent. The combination overshadowed any smoky nuances in the cheese or pancetta. Still, the pre-rendered porky element was flavorful and well-prepared. The potatoes were also nicely crisped and presented, yet their flavors were muted underneath the acidic tomato crown. The best bites were potato and cheese-heavy, without question.
Despite prior corn crust prejudice, the outer lip was one of the highlights of the slice. Perfectly crisped on the outside with an interesting interior textural of rough-ground corn, the cornicone yielded a comforting salty, sweet affect. Overall, the experience was marred by a value perception, but the flavors were on point. I no longer fear the cornmeal crust.