February 19th, 2014 MARTIN CIZMAR | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Pizza For One

Our favorite slices, slabs and personal pies.

dish_pyro_4016PYRO’S MARGHERITA PIZZA - IMAGE: Nolan Calisch
Stumptown isn’t a slice town. Portland’s strength isn’t making the greasy triangles Sipowicz folded and stuffed into his mouth on NYPD Blue, but producing pizzas in more diverse and nuanced forms.

This is not only true of pizzas at the upper end—Apizza Scholls, Ken’s Artisan, Oven and Shaker—but also when it comes to inexpensive one-person pies.

As we worked on this week’s Cheap Eats, we ate a lot of pizza. That includes one bloated afternoon we spent eating seven slices in four city quadrants.

Along the way, we kept our eyes peeled for outstanding one-person pizzas of all shapes and sizes. Here are our favorite pies and wedges sized for one and priced under $8.


1. Pyro

1204 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 929-1404, pyropizzacart.com.

It takes about five minutes and $7 to get Portland’s best single-serving pie from the wood-fired oven at this Southeast Portland cart. Pyro pizzaiolos aren’t afraid to walk the razor’s edge, firing foot-wide pies until the thinnest bubbles turn black and pop, leaving the rest of the crust at ideal crispness. Atop that peerless foundation goes a handful of housemade mozzarella, a mild tomato sauce and an excellent selection of meats, including fennel-flecked sausage and big, thin slices of Otto’s pepperoni that curl up at the edges. Don’t leave without trying the housemade sodas, which include a killer cherry phosphate and a good sarsaparilla. MARTIN CIZMAR.


2. Handsome

2730 N Killingsworth St., 247-7499, handsomepizza.com.

Sitting half-baked on the counter, Handsome’s slices don’t look like much. But after you pick your toppings from the long list of options (pancetta, shallots, Brussels sprouts, crimini mushrooms, ricotta…) at this upcycled North Portland auto garage, a paddle slips it back into the super-hot oven. That $3 slice is another thing entirely when it re-emerges about a minute later, all airy crunch and cheesy bliss. MARTIN CIZMAR.


3. Flying Pie

7804 SE Stark St., 254-2016, flying-pie.com.

When you were a sloppy-faced kid in Portland (bear with me here, transplants) and your parents said they were taking you out for pizza, Flying Pie is what you pictured. There’s a salad bar, an arcade’s worth of ’80s cabinet play, and pizza with sourdough-chewy crust, a quarter-inch layer of cheese, plentiful sweet-garlic marinara under the hood and old-school toppings (pepperoni, olive, white mushroom) so plentiful they could choke the carburetor on an Econoline. Seven bucks at lunch nets you a slice the size of a rabbit, plus a trip to the greens bar and a soda. A quarter more and you fight the legions of Galaga while you wait. Life is good. Life is quite possibly perfect. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.


4. Lonesome’s

1 SW 3rd Ave., 234-0114, lonesomespizza.com.

Lonesome’s started with mysterious and zany late-night delivery service on the inner east side, before moving last year into the corner of Dante’s on West Burnside Street. The slices sold from the shop’s window are usually far more basic than the extravagantly topped delivery pies, but perhaps even tastier when served piping hot from the oven, with enough super-crisp crust to support the best pizza sauce in Portland. You might miss that Ethiopian-spiced leg of lamb, but  spicy bologna-size rounds of pepperoni prove to be the only topping you need. MARTIN CIZMAR.


5. Escape From New York

622 NW 23rd Ave., 227-5423, efnypizza.net.

EFNW owner Phil Geffner swears he pretty much invented the unisex restroom in Portland—before that, he says, such things only happened on airplanes. He’s also the guy who brought pizza by the slice to Portland. In the ’80s, it was apparently a deeply confusing concept to Nob Hill passersby, who pretty much thought that a dog had eaten part of the pizza. Well, the old recipe got some dust on it during the 30 years the shop has been open. But we swear: Like an old pitcher who rediscovers his good stuff late in his career, Escape is having a renaissance these days. We heartily recommend the house sausage on that crackery crust with a hint of carbon scuff, along with the garlic-packed sauce and generous cheese. The damn thing folds up like your dad’s handkerchief. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.


6. Pizza Contadino

North Richmond Avenue and Lombard Street, 935-4375, pizzacontadino.com.

Slices here come in three acknowledged forms: cheese ($3), pepperoni ($3.50) and “fancy” ($4). “Fancy” could mean anything—maybe it comes on a lace doily?—but we usually hope for some combination of the following: kale, sweet slivers of red onion, mushrooms and locally made sausage, lying atop cheese, housemade sauce and crisp sourdough crust. ADRIENNE SO.


7. Dove Vivi

2727 NE Glisan St., 239-4444, dovevivipizza.com.

Dove Vivi (translation: “where you live”) doesn’t look like regular pizza because it isn’t regular pizza. It’s, like, goat cheese on cornbread, with tapenade. Or a fig-bacon-radicchio-blue cheese number you swear should have been a salad at Tasty N Sons. Or corn cashew, for criminy’s sake. And it’s a perfect candidate for by-the-slice pizza because it tastes even better aged, when the sauce seeps into the cornbread. Caveats? Slices are $4.50 apiece, and you have to call ahead because that forearm-thick slice takes 20 minutes to cook. But you won’t remember any of that once you put it in your mouth. MATTHEW KORFHAGE. [Nota bene! A previous version of this article said that Dove's cornmeal crust was gluten free. It does use some wheat flour.]


8. Via Chicago

2013 NE Alberta St., 719-6809, viachicagopizza.com.

Via Chicago makes what is probably the most divisive pizza in town. It’s telling that the most passionate critiques come from people who either consider thick crust an inferior form or regard this shop’s take to be inauthentic based on a standard developed while visiting their Uncle Clark and Aunt Ellen. This cart-born shop’s pies deserve to be judged on their merits, and on my visit they were palpable: a buttery crust that flakes like a well-made pie and is just a little slippery toward the center, a pool of gooey mozzarella and bright tomato sauce. I don’t care what you call it, or how closely it resembles the deep dishery nearest your cousin’s dorm, but it’s a thick, tasty wedge. MARTIN CIZMAR.


9. Baby Doll

2835 SE Stark St., 459-4450, babydollpizza.com.

It’s easy to see why so many love this shop. First, for the neighborhood, it’s a monumental upgrade over the pizzeria that sat in the same space until last year. Second, Culinary Institute of America-trained owner Travis Miranda has mastered the crust of his native New Yawk. Indeed, the crust is damned near perfect. The sauce, though, is thin and flavorless, cheese is applied by a tight fist, and Baby Doll’s much-loved pepperoni, which curls up into little cups full of shiny orange grease, doesn’t do much for me. MARTIN CIZMAR.


10. Roman Candle

3377 SE Division St., 971-302-6605, romancandlebaking.com.

In its 14-hour business day, Roman Candle does a lot of things. Most of those things it does better than pizza. And yet. This bakery churns out great bread for Duane “Stumptown” Sorenson’s burgeoning restaurant empire. That’s a solid start for the red-faced, 8-inch slab of pomodoro ($4), which combines the house’s puffy overproofed dough with piquant marinara, a sprinkle of sea salt, paper-thin slices of garlic and a shake of oregano. Even better was a recent slab with delicata squash and browned onions. MARTIN CIZMAR. 

 
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