First Look: Fire on the Mountain 3, Portland, OR
The Fire on the Mountain chicken wing nano-chain is the perfect example of a Portland institution. When hungry for hot wings, there is no discussion; Fire on the Mountain is the assumed destination. When a third location opened this fall, the prospect of pizza and house-brewed beer caused quite the buzz. A pizza menu which infuses traditional NY-style thin crust pies with eccentric wing ingredients could not hide under a blanket of mediocrity. It would be a smashing success or a spectacular fail.
In an effort to most accurately showcase their own brand of fusion cuisine, I sampled the "Almost Famous" Buffalo Pie ($23, 18"). Working from a cheese pie base, Fire on the Mountain amps up the marinara sauce with Buffalo Nam wing sauce, bleu cheese crumbles get added to the shredded mozzarella, and green onions serve as the green element, and thankfully that wasn't celery. Though had there been a celery salt shaker on hand, I probably would have experimented with it. The radioactive orange hue of this combination trumps the paper plate-staining capabilities of your average neon pizza grease.
The bleu cheese and wing sauce were the most prominent flavors, though the buttery crust did manage to shine through. Since I was mostly after satisfying a Buffalo sauce craving, the pie was super successful. I didn't even miss the chicken (available as an optional add-on), proving that the craving, at least for me, is one for the spicy, tangy sauce and funky cheese. The earthy scallions were a nice counterpoint to the richness of the cheese—maybe they should be used on pizza more often.
The crust was crisp throughout and provided a solid base for the hefty amounts of dairy on top. I would have enjoyed a less burnt cornicione; it was crunchy throughout, but with a minute or two less in the oven, it could have had a nice interior with a chewy contrast. The grilled cheese-y taste to the crust was pleasant though, and addictive to boot. None was left behind.
The space itself is bustling and roomy, with a divine glow illuminating the brewing equipment in an otherwise dim wing cavern. But don't go for the house beers; unfortunately they were overhopped. The two-tier Bakers Pride gas-fired oven was harder to spot, though the pizza was certainly worth checking out. Imagine the last 'meh' slice of buffalo chicken that you had, step it up with a thoughtful approach and better ingredients, and you've got a pretty good approximation of what waits for you at Fire on the Mountain 3.
Fire on the Mountain 33443 NE 57th Ave, Portland OR 97213 (map)