Once a place where overpaid government employees—excuse me, heroes—sat around playing cards and waiting for something to burst into flames, Firehouse is now where Portlanders on dates wait for the flames of a wood-fired oven to delicately char the edges of a margherita pizza.

A building inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture now inspires salivating over Southern Italian cuisine. OK, that's enough.

For real, though: A tent pole of the Dekum Triangle since 2008, Firehouse has a legitimate claim to the best under-the-radar pizza in town.

Photo: Hilary Sander
Photo: Hilary Sander

If nothing else, it's among the most aesthetically pleasing, emerging from the maw of its oven with a gorgeously spotted crust and just ever-so-melted mozzarella. Other items, such as the hanger steak ($21), come imbued with the oven's smoky undertones, but every meal must include at least one pie. And while you're at it, get an order of the buttery skillet mussels ($12), which come in a close second for pure Roman-Catholic divinity.

Photo: Hilary Sander
Photo: Hilary Sander

Pro tip: Stake out a spot on the garden-ensconced patio, though plan to hole up in nearby Breakside Brewing and wait out the crowds.

GO: 711 NE Dekum St., 954-1702, firehousepdx.com. 5-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 5-8:30 pm Sunday. $$.