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Daily Slice: Via Chicago, Portland, Oregon

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Proscuitto and Roasted Red Pepper slice at Via Chicago [Photographs: Jim Bonomo]

Via Chicago is a food stand located at the PSU Saturday Farmers Market, essentially serving pizza for breakfast. They exist on the opposite corner of the market from Tastebud's mobile pizza oven, which is the yin to this pizza's thick, homey yang. Via offers a handful of pizza combinations by the slice, including vegan options. The prosciutto and roasted red pepper ($3.75) exemplified their no-nonsense approach to bold, in-your-face flavors which define their abbreviated menu.

The pizza takes a page from the Chicago bible in terms of pie construction; cheese and meat on the bottom, tomato and veggie on top. The slice itself was astonishingly heavy when I first lifted it. One could also tell from the golden-brown crust and slice shape that this was a pan-baked pizza, but that was where the Windy City similarities ended.

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The flavor profile was skewed towards Greek style, especially in terms of the tomato element. The characteristic sweetness resulting from a cooked down reduction and a heavy-handed dose of dried oregano defined the sauce. The cheese was a bit on the bland side and salt was lacking to balance the sweet. The prosciutto, instead of filling in as the much-needed salt element, was richer and fattier than I would have liked it to be. The beautifully charred red peppers were the best part of the slice, presenting a fruit/carbon interplay which added an unexpected depth.

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The crust, as mentioned, was surprisingly of the cornmeal variety. Extremely coarse bits of dried corn mingled with a buttery exterior crunch producing a winning, shattery texture. Both rich and sweet, the crust had good flavor, but, again, a bit of salt would have helped bring harmony to this intense slice.

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In contrast to Dove Vivi, these slices fulfilled more of the comfort food role to DV's gourmet organic slice angle. It seemed appropriate for a pizza of this nature to be served outdoors from a stand, heated in a mobile oven from a tiny display case. This is definitely not the traditional Chicago pies I know, but perhaps the closest thing Portland has to it. For a curious jaunt into the world of Greek/Chicago hybrid pie, give Via Chicago a try.

Via Chicago

PSU Farmers Market, near SW Park & SW Harrison (map)
www.portlandfarmersmarket.org

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