With winter's grasp upon us, certified Pizza Obsessive Will Fain has finally introduced the world (and hungry Portlanders) to what those who know him say was a long time coming: Handsome Pizza.
'Portland' on Serious Eats
A new Portland, OR slice shop is cooking up the most accurate representation of NYC style so far
When I first spied the Krust Artisan Pizza food cart, emblazoned with 'housemade' and 'artisan', I thought I had made a discovery—a diamond in the rough. But such terms are used loosely and should have raised my suspicions.
Portland's pizza cart continues to evolve with the addition of Kindle Kart. As long as you can keep yourself from having a lack-of-patience-while-waiting aneurysm, this food cart is most definitely a must-stop for any Portland pizza lover.
While the major hubs in the Pacific Northwest don't have a pizza tradition, there are plenty of passionate pizza people that have opened up shop in Seattle and Portland. The pizza landscape has changed dramatically in the last seven years, so much so that Portland and Seattle seem to be leading the charge in the pizza renaissance. And despite not having regional styles steeped in history, pizzerias in the Pacific Northwest are putting their own stamp on Neopartisinal pies through local sourcing, creative toppings, and new approaches, all of which perpetuate the evolution of pizza.
Seattle based mini chain Via Tribunali is turning out traditional Italian pies in Portland. The basics can't be beat, but while traditional, not all their pies are conventional Neapolitan pizzas and may take a little explaining.
The unkempt hipster who waited on me at Vincente's offered a special which he referred to as the "daily slice", making the artichoke, bacon, and cheddar-topped pizza ($4.00) the obvious must-try choice.
Since Apizza Scholls ceased its Sicilian pie service, the thick, square slices have been the missing link of the Portland pizza scene. After recently discovering that a hole-in-the-wall Southeast Portland pub was serving up the square style, I knew where the Slice business would be leading me this week
A local food blog recently referred to Uncle John's Market, as a "destination of Portland pizza whisperers". I was surprised to roll up on what is essentially a convenience store with the word 'Pizza' emblazoned on the side. In between the cigarettes and the lottery machines stood a full sized, double decker, honest-to-goodness pizza oven and glass case full of slices. As one would do in a divey NYC joint, I went for pepperoni ($3.25).
As most Portlanders will tell you, the St. John's neighborhood is not the most convenient place for anything, nevermind a slice of pizza. A clear schedule, an empty belly, and a cloudy afternoon created the perfect storm of St. John's-friendly travel circumstances. There I found the 'Cathedral' ($3.95/slice), a vegetarian melange of salty, savory garden fare.
The Cauliflower Pizza at Oven & Shaker. [Photographs: Derek Arent] Oven & Shaker 1134 NW Everett St, Portland OR 97209 (map); 503-241-1600 Pizza Type: Cali-meets-NW-meets-Neapolitan Oven Type: Wood-fired Price: $12-15 for 12-inch pizzas Just like the bistro-style burger at Le Pigeon and the Fish Sauce Wings at Pok Pok, the pizza at Nostrana was a menu item deemed worthy of forming the foundation for a whole new restaurant. This formula is an apparent trend in the current Portland culinary scene, and the genesis of Oven and Shaker relied heavily on the weight of chef Cathy Whims' wood-fired pies. With...
strong>Bridgeport's pies are named after local bridges, and "the burnside" (12", $12.50), with its Northwestern flair, held a lot of appeal on a winter's day. Smoked onions, local wild mushrooms, and Parmesan sat atop a base of mozzarella with roasted garlic oil. Fresh parsley and thyme added some green to the otherwise earthy pie. It was those vibrant herbs, coupled with the intense BBQ-like smoke from the onions and deeply charred bits of the crust, that defined this pie.
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 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.
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.
Only in Portland will you find cheap happy hour bar pizza hand-crafted in the artisan style. OK, maybe other forward-thinking cities can boast this same anomaly, but walking in to a dive bar full of glazed-over old couples and shady 'hood denizens surely does not build anticipation for delicious pie. The midday (4pm-6pm) menu at the Muddy Rudder promises a $5 three-cheese personal pizza (in addition to $3 pints of craft beer) and I'd be a shame to the Slice organization to not take the bait.
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.
Via Chicago is a food stand located at the PSU Saturday Farmers Market, essentially serving pizza for breakfast. 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, but that was where the Windy City similarities ended.
Dove Vivi ranks among the top pizzerias in Portland when your average foodie, yelper, or google reviewer is calling the shots. For the purist/elitist, the idea of a cornmeal crust monopoly is rather obtuse. You're telling me there is no regular pizza, just cornmeal? Can the exclusive use of America's top crop outweigh the traditionalist prejudice? Can the lack of a flour-based crust yield adequate satisfaction? Only trained tastebuds and an open mind will know for sure.