The pizza scene in Portland has been fairly stationary since the much-hyped New Year's Eve opening of East Burnside's Sizzle Pie. As we approach Sizzle's one year anniversary, a second location is preparing to open in Southwest Portland, and the overall pizza landscape in Portland has encountered a rapid growth spurt. Here's what's on the horizon...
'Portland OR' on Serious Eats
An Italian bakery in Portland is out of place. Curiosity got the best of me, however, when I learned that pizza made by honest-to-goodness Queens natives lurked inside of the mythical establishment. After almost two years of strolling by like an ignoramus, I can say with confidence that the bakers at DiPrima Dolci are slinging some solid pies.
Mention Tastebud to a Portlander, and they'll likely think of Tastebud's Saturday Farmers' Market stand, where they sell schmeared bagel sandwiches, pitas stuffed with lamb, and reheated, parbaked slices of pizza. Very few people know that Tastebud's pizza is available fresh from an actual bricks-and-mortar establishment, and even fewer know that you can eat as much as your belly will allow every Sunday night for fifteen dollars.
I was surprised to see the oft-buzzed-about Gladstone Street Pizza left off of Portland Monthly's March 2011 Portland pizza round-up. What once was a coffee shop dabbling in pizza has recently become a full-time pizzeria, and the sharpened focus has allowed the pizza quality to improve, steadily approaching Portland's top tier.
My prime suggestion for Sizzle Pie is to pick a direction and stay focused. I enjoyed the ease and casual nature inside, the big portion, and the simplicity of everyday ingredients put together to satisfy a late-night or hungover craving. On the other side of the spectrum, it offers basil-cashew pizza with goat cheese and cracked egg. I understand the desire to have something for everyone, but the act of spreading its act so thin (41 unique pizza selections on the whole-pie menu plus "create your own") allowed my meaty slice to fall just short of excellence.
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This could arguably be the best brick-and-mortar New York–ish slice in Stumptown. A crisp thin crust, a sauce that nicely balances sweet and savory, and a judiciously distributed blanket of dry-aged mozzarella. Its most glaring fault is the lack of life at the rim. Both slices I sampled—one plain ($3) and one pepperoni ($3.25)—catwalked an edge crust that was almost completely flat and relatively insubstantial in the flavor department. I visited on only their fifth day being open, so know that there's plenty of time for them to improve. That said, I definitely plan on returning. It's a quality greasy slice for a decent value and in a convenient location.
You know how they say competition is a good for the consumer? The thinking, of course, is that it forces competitors to up their respective games. Here's an example.
The wood-fired pizzas at Lovely's Fifty-Fifty rival some of Portland's best. Our favorite was topped with wild nettles, Fontina, Taleggio, and pancetta.
The daily option for meat lovers featured Canadian bacon with onion and red peppers. The onions were white, and chopped haphazardly, leaving bursts of raw, pungent onion flavor. The red peppers were half-cooked, giving this slice a salad-like feel. The tomato sauce was a sweet paste best suited to a glass jar on a grocery store shelf. A thick layer of mozzarella was gelatinous due to a poor reheat and contributed no flavor; the crust was buttery, crunchy, and flaky but underseasoned.
The pizzas at Firehouse in Portland, Oregon, are picturesque and delicious; they're a wonderful example of top-shelf ingredients cooked properly in a wood oven. If I had one wish, though, it would be for a longer list of pizzas on the menu.
If I hadn't known the squash was present, I would have pegged this as a white pizza with a bit of funky brie and aggressive onion. I'd suggest they add a little more squash and tone down the brie and onion a bit. The slice was well-seasoned and the crust-to-cheese-to-topping ratio was perfect for lovers of a thin crust pie. The crust lip brought crunch, chew, and a nice color, and the undercrust is pleasantly crisp and sturdy.
Portland, Oregon's newest mobile pizza vendor has made its home among D Street's trendy latecomers. Slice Brick Oven Pizza serves up 8" pizzettes and full-sized 16" pizzas as well as a few different slices: cheese, Margherita, pepperoni, and, occasionally, a vodka sauce-slathered slice. The cart is equipped with a propane-fueled brick oven and promotes their use of freshly made dough and sauce.
The cozy Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom set into the Hood River hillside says they're churning out New Haven-style pizzas alongside their decidedly Oregon-style brews. Since I grew up in Connecticut, I had to check it out.
Y'all know about Apizza Scholls already. It's one of my hometown's most popular pizzas, so tasty that in his 2008 review, Ed Levine called it one of the top five pizzerias in America. And Adam and Ed arranged for a pie to be delivered to the Serious Eats offices...from 2,900 miles away. (Adam also reviewed Apizza Scholls on Slice here last year.)
Portobello Vegan Trattoria first caught my eye while reading about New Zealand transplant/pizza chef Will Fain on various food sites. I knew Fain had a knack for homemade Margherita oven-hack pies with fresh mozz and a hankering for DiFara's pepperoni, so to find out that he'd signed on as cheeseless, meatless pizzaiolo had my head spinning. I knew this would be a challenge for me as eater, and must certainly be one for him as cook. But their website advertises "traditional, Neapolitan-inspired pizzas," so I was eager to check it out.
Reaching in to the Slice mailbag, we've got ... Give Pizza a Chance's menu board. It's more a "slice cart" than a "whole pie cart." Click it bigger for reference. [Photograph: I Dream of Pizza] I sent your post to my pal from Portland (ppppp!) and he was surprised this one didn't make the list: givepizzaachance.com.—Erin Zimmer ---------------------- Dear Erin, Even though you are sitting not more than 10 feet from me here in the Slice–Serious Eats office, I have chosen to answer you publicly on the internetz. Why? Because I need to post something in my mid-morning slot on...
What is it about Portland, Oregon?!? The place has not one, not two, but three (THREE!) artisanal pizza carts. Pizza CARTS, mind you — not pizzerias.
Here's another community-submitted bit of intel from the field from tomdorkey. Thanks, tomdorkey! And remember, if YOU want to submit your review, here's how. —The Mgmt. [Photograph: Adam Kuban] Ken's Artisan Pizza 304 SE 28th Avenue, Portland OR 97214; map); 503-517-9951; kensartisan.com/pizza.html Pizza Style: Neapolitan-inspired Oven Type: Wood-fired Notes: Great starters, no reservations, reasonable corkage Consistently good, high quality ingredients, unbelievable crust that is flavorful, chewySeasonal, creative desserts (especially in summer when local fruit and berries are available)Terrific Caesar Salad dressed just right, flavorful croutons (from Ken's Bakery), shaved ParmesanKnowledgeable wait staff who enjoy their work, and are always helpful....