It was not only a blow to those who love pizza, classic hip-hop and boom boxes, but to anyone who wants to see this city become aesthetically diverse, instead of continuing as one big Cracker Factory churning out whimsy and woolen caps. So there's something bittersweet about Associated (2131 SE 11th Ave., 503-231-2809), the cozy neighborhood pizza pub that took over the space in October.
On one hand, Nick Ford's perfect pies have been preserved along with the wood-fired Gianni Acunto oven that makes them. Ford's apprentice nailed my classic sausage-and-basil pie on a Monday night. The crust was soft but chewy, with a ribbon of crispness, and the sausage and pepperoni basil walloped with fat and herbs. The pies at this casual counter-service spot are all $13 and rival Ken's—seriously.
There's now a massive projector screen showing the Packers, a $7 cocktail made by pouring rum into coconut La Croix, and a Stones-heavy classic-rock soundtrack. Things done changed, indeed.
The three house cocktails we tried were a letdown—especially a Palm Desert ($9) with bourbon, IPA and Aperol that ended up tasting like a watery drop shot. And for some reason, those very special pizzas are paired with a small selection of tacos (all $2.50) that feature dry proteins on thick, lifeless flour tortillas.
But it's a welcoming place, the beer and wine lists are great, and you're welcome to order a cocktail made with the booze on the towering back bar. I'll have a pizza and a $2 High Life.