Last time I visited Sizzle Pie for a Daily Slice, it was the east side location, and I aimed for the most carnivorous item available. On my recent trip to Sizzle Pie West, the micro-chain's second location, I decided to give a veggie option a chance. Truthfully, it was a no-brainer after I spotted one of Portland's most elusive pizza toppings behind the glass case: fried eggplant.
The 'Italians Do It Better' ($3.50/slice) was enormous, dwarfing the aluminum serving plate by several inches. In dollars per square inch, this slice was quite the value. Beyond Sizzle's typical cheese base, this variant bore Parmesan, crushed garlic, basil, and breaded eggplant rounds. The main attraction here was the super-thin crisp slices of eggplant. The herbed breading on the fried rounds transformed the flavor of the spongy discs into something akin to a meatball, sans meat. Fresh basil jumped out, bright in contrast to the fatty breadiness of the slice. The salt element, which Sizzle Pie typically delivers via meat and brined things, seemed to be lacking here. The sweetness from the simple tomato base and the richness of the fats needed something beyond basil to create harmony; even the umami notes of the Parmesan were muted.
The crust was enjoyable in its similarity to French bread—brittle and crisp on the outside, nicely browned, soft and chewy on the inside, and a good vehicle for missed bits on the plate. Despite the skillful baking, the lack of seasoning bled over to the crust. The crushed garlic, however, gave a much-needed savory flavor to the bread. In addition to the fantastic people-watching opportunities, the pizza will bring me back to this new location; I'll just stick with the meat options or keep a salt shaker close at hand.