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Pizza reviews in the Portland area.

Daily Slice: Sunshine Tavern, Portland, Oregon

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.

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[Photographs: Jim Bonomo]

Pizza for breakfast, in my mind, previously existed as a cold, foil-wrapped option to the ghetto power. After feeling positive vibes about this place from fellow SE'r Adam Lindsley, I decided to try a fresh take on the 'breakfast pizza' standby. Sunshine Tavern in southeast Portland offers two personal-sized pizzas on their weekend brunch menu topped with morning-friendly ingredients alongside some top-notch coffee in a relaxed, sun-drenched atmosphere.

The pizza had no name, but for our purposes here, let's refer to it as 'Breakfast Pizza' ($12). Although of a personal size, this pizza takes its inspiration more from a traditional flatbread than a Neapolitan-style pie. Toppings included Parmesan cheese, shallots, wild oregano, olive oil, and the kicker: two perfectly-cooked hen eggs. Tesa (a form of pancetta) was promised on the menu, but not delivered. The pizza was so good that I totally forgot about the lack of savory pork product. It arrived uncut with a pair of Fiskars. Sawing into that glistening yolk played to both my boyish nature for destruction and a nerdy culinary desire to take an active role in my meal.

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The Parmesan and wild oregano intensified and distinguished the typical grouping of breakfast-y elements. The oregano, in its savage state, could have been overbearing if used heavy-handedly. Here, a little restraint combined without eh muting effect of the oven char gave the herb the opportunity to quietly shine. The Parmesan gave a salty depth to the fatty egg yolk, and the olive oil rounded out the overall taste with a fruity richness. My only criticism here was a mild lack of salt, but a ramekin of sea salt and chile flake preceded the pizza. I appreciated getting some control over the seasoning, and the coarse salt contributed favorably to the textural dynamic of the pie.

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The tight blistering on the crust (like on a high-end sourdough loaf) landed this pizza in food porn territory . The multiple shale-like layers, delicate and crispy, enrobed a slightly sour, chewy baguette-like interior. A smoky accent gave more depth to the intriguing flavor of this masterful cornicone. The undercarriage was dark, but with a hint of char. In addition to tasting awesome, the outer crust was a perfect vehicle for the leftover egg yolk which dotted the plate.

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For me, the sign of a great pizza is my ability to eat beyond fullness, oblivious to the stress placed on my internal organs. The amount of Sunshine Tavern breakfast pizza consumed far exceeded my typical a.m. food limit. The beautiful pies being pulled from the compact Baker's Pride oven will inspire any food nerd and satisfy the soul. Sunshine Tavern's two egg breakfast pie easily falls into my top five Portland pizza experiences, and I look forward to the opportunity to try their nighttime offerings.

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Sunshine Tavern
3111 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202 (map)

503-688-1750; sunshinepdx.com

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