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Daily Slice: Pizza Box, 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.
The Portland food cart scene east of 82nd Avenue is rather limited in scope. Despite its hulking, house-like structure, Pizza Box is indeed a 'cart', and a welcome addition to an area somewhat devoid of tasty, non-Mexican options. It's set up as more of a call-ahead-and-take-out establishment, and while only open for two months, they seem to be cranking out endless wood-fired pies.
The first flavors of the Margherita ($9) were intense char from the oven and a bold (but not too bold) saltiness. Further bites encountered pockets of fruity, robust olive oil which added an extra savory layer to compliment the undisturbed acidic tomato base. The cheese appeared to be fresh mozzarella, but it truly played second fiddle to the other components. Still, the cheese added a wonderful chewy element to the pie. Even the basil was restrained.
The giant homemade wood-fired oven that sits inside the Pizza Box produces a really intense crust. The combination of caramelization and ashiness sets the base, and the liberal use of salt and oil allows for the crust to build flavors upon flavors. My only criticism of this pie was the lack of crispness, which existed solely on the bottom corner-edge of the cornicone. The chew inside was springy and developed. Still, it's a stretch to find a flaw in this pie. It was homey and satisfying. I should have ordered two.
I would not hesitate to put the Margherita from the Pizza Box cart in my top five Portland pizzas.
Pizza Box8419 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland OR 97266 (map)