[ARTISAN PIZZA] Long a favored spot for young Portland transplants to bring their out-of-town relatives—it's a place of landed and accessible comforts, just stuffy enough to reassure the middle class—Ken's Artisan Pizza is an offshoot of chef Ken Forkish's famed bakery on Northwest 21st Avenue, which still offers pizzas on Monday nights. The dining room is laid out around an open kitchen with a wood-fired oven that pumps out crispy, thin-crust pizza in two minutes flat. Nearly everything at Ken's is handcrafted, right down to tables made from the Douglas fir wood that used to make up the Big Dipper roller coaster at Jantzen Beach. For starters, try the calamari—a heaping serving of large sauteed squid, tossed in spicy tomato sauce—or a warm bacon and apricot salad served with a tangy apricot-and-honey vinaigrette. Or spring for the roasted vegetable plate ($12), whose ingredients change by the season and are sourced from Ken's local network of farmers. As for the pizza, its appeal is mostly the springy, gently charred crust and lightly spiced sauce, plus a host of cured and spiced meat toppings: bacon, prosciutto, salami, guanciale or fennel sausage. Finish your meal with a gelato or a marionberry crisp, and wash it all down with one of a hundred different bottles of wine. BROOKE GEERY.
Ken's serves only beer and wine, but during your inevitable wait for a table—they don't take reservations—you can get a cocktail next door at Bamboo Sushi.