Cheap Eats 2015: Pizza

Atlas Pizza

3570 SE Division St., 232-3004, Lunch and dinner daily.

Metalheads who drive Chevy Cavaliers have long been the unsung heroes of the American pizza industry in places like Austin and Detroit. Portland has its own rock-'n'-roll pizza parlors, with pinball and general weirdness on top, when Sizzle Pie and Lonesome's opened in 2010. Now, Southeast Division Street gets Atlas Pizza, which channels the same vibe through three pinball cabinets and old gig posters for Dead Moon and High On Fire.

The pizza's pretty good, too. Nothing fancy—medium-thick crust with a piquant marinara and gobs of salty mozzarella—but satisfying, especially since it's selling the only cheap slices on a six-block stretch of Division that's teeming with fancy pizza. Atlas' owners also run Dot's Cafe, the Clinton Street rocker bar, and hired Sean Croghan, probably best known from his grunge-era punk band Crackerbash but with time spent at Escape From New York Pizza on Northwest 23rd Avenue. Slices are always available ($3.25 for cheese, 25 cents for each additional topping), and get tossed back in the oven for a minute before coming out with a crispy bottom that bends but won't quite fold.

You can build your own pie, but the house's creations are interesting and mostly seem to work. My favorite was the Sluzrenko ($14 for 12 inches, $26 for 18), named roughly for one of Croghan's bandmates, which has pepperoni, wee bits of pineapple and big pieces of jalapeño. Slices of sweet and hot mesh very well here. Anything with the housemade sausage, which is a little spicy and served in generous crumbles, is also a good bet. Both salads—garden and Caesar, each $4—were crisp and topping-heavy, just the way they should be, served with the same $2 Pabst that the delivery dude drinks. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Dove Vivi

2727 NE Glisan St., 239-4444, Dinner nightly.

[CORN-BRED] Pizza? Sorta. Taxonomically, Dove Vivi's round cornmeal crust pies are at least as much casserole. Delicious? Quite. The crisp, biscuity crust is unlike anything else in town, tracing its lineage to an ancient (1985) recipe passed from a Franciscan (Vicolo) to an Angeleno (Zelo) and finally to this dim and cozy little shop, as romantic a space as any restaurant that shares walls with a dry cleaner and bodega can be. Most of the pies—$23.75 whole, $12 half—have mozzarella, but few have marinara. The best has big crumbles of housemade andouille sausage, scallions and tomato sauce. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Escape From New York Pizza

622 NW 23rd Ave., 227-5423, Lunch and dinner daily.

Fifteen years of stopping in and eating by the slice at Phil Geffner's iconic Nob Hill spot, and only this year I discover the majesty of a whole, fresh-made Escape From New York pie with sausage and onion ($18.30 medium, $22,75 large). If you share this blind spot, this is a travesty. Treat yourself to a full, fresh pie—only with these toppings!—and you will receive not just a pizza but a stew, with the fennel and oil of their housemade sausage permeating all aspects of cheese and sauce. It is a singular pleasure—as is, frankly, the normal, everyday experience of EFNYP, which usually involves a friendly ribbing from Geffner or one of the other old-timers as you sit down to the city's original New York-style slice ($3.75 for pepperoni), heaped with Parmesan and red peppers and long memory. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Flying Pie

7804 SE Stark St., 254-2016, Lunch and dinner daily.

[ROOTS PIZZA] You really gonna front on Flying Pie? C'mon, dawg. You ain't Tuscan. You ain't from Rome, man. We know you ain't grow up eatin' wood-fired pizza pies with a knife and fork. Naw, man, you grew up with this. This is your roots. This is what you wanted when you begged your momma for a trip to Charles Cheese. You can try frontin', but we know you're not too good to head out to Montavilla for Portland's best classic American 'za. It's a throwback pie, medium-thick, half a butcher shop's worth of salty meats on every pie. There's an ocean of mozzarella and enough sauce to burn your tongue good if you eat it too fast. You know what to do, though. We know you do. No need to play big-timer around us. MARTIN CIZMAR.


2114 SE Clinton St., 235-1035, Dinner and late-night daily.

[IT DELIVERS] Chances are, you've never been in the right mind frame to properly appreciate Hammy's. The pizza spot on Southeast Clinton is best known for its late-night delivery, a service that comes in handiest when one is busy with a pressing deadline, endrunkened or otherwise addled. Then, one time, you just get it to get it, and you realize that Hammy's actually makes damned fine pies. And then you read up on it. The dough has the slight sourdough tang you get from slow-proofing the dough, which is made with local grain. Hammy's makes its sauce daily and uses fresh meats. The toppings are seasonal and often organic. All this time, you thought you were paying a couple extra bucks ($21.95 for a hefty large specialty pie, plus a $3 delivery charge after midnight) as a drunk tax. Nope. They're just using good ingredients. Huh. Good to know. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Lonesome's Pizza

1 SW Third Ave., 234-0114, Lunch, dinner and late night daily.

[ALWAYS LONESOME TONIGHT] We cannot help our office-wide soft spot for this place, from whom we order approximately monthly doses of pizza with sweet peppers and a cavalcade of meat. They not only have a suicidally large delivery area in Portland; they also happen to be the best delivery pizza in town, with sweet, rich sauce and a parade of toppings—sauces from Ethiopian to Alfredo, toppers from butterflied shrimp to ricotta—that boggle imagination. Sadly, the "giant and the midget who run the place" have bailed on the goofball names, and now the pizzas are numbered in French, which confuses us. But not enough to stop us from ordering. If you must, get the boring flavors out of their late-night Dante's window. But there are better ways to get Lonesome's, like when you're lonesome, at home. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Pizza Contadino

North Richmond Avenue and Lombard Street, 935-4375, Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday.

[FIXIN' TO EATS] With wood-fired pizza at a critical mass, Contadino—plopped outside of St. Johns' Fixin' To—proves not all charred pies are the same. For starters, Contadino doesn't mess with single-serving discs, opting instead for pizzas fit to feed two to three. They also take a pizzeria-style approach to cheese, with a full layer of mozzarella concealing a sweet and chunky sauce. The sourdough crust is a nice touch, with the requisite char balancing the tang. Pies start at $18, with each topping running a buck and rotating based on seasonal availability (the slightly spicy sausage with peppers is a must.) Pro tip: Call ahead. Wait times can range from 10 minutes on a busy day to 40 minutes on a recent night where I was the only customer. That's cool, though. That's why there's a bar right there. AP KRYZA.


16050 SE 82nd Drive, Clackamas, 655-5094, Lunch and dinner daily.

[HAPPY VALLEY PIE] Clackamas County's finest Italian restaurant—on the borderline of cheapness for this guide, but sliding in—the newly rebranded Prontobella Italian Kitchen is where you go for nice Neapolitan pies in the burbs. Grab a big circular booth and settle in as Frank Sinatra croons and the Oklahoma City Thunder dismantle the Lakers. The restaurant formerly known as Pronto Pizza has expanded its focus to include housemade pasta with housemade sausage that's prepared perfectly al dente but still lacked the snap of flavor we want. Stick to pizza, where the sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes, each bite has some crumbly sausage and the crust is lightly charred with a crackery snap. You can get two slices for $3 during lunch hours, or go native with the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $10. It's classy, though. We promise. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Pyro Pizza

Southeast 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard (Cartopia pod), 929-1404; Southeast 28th Place and Division Street (Tidbit Food, Farm and Garden pod), 708-0213; Dinner nightly, lunch Wednesday-Sunday at Cartopia; dinner Wednesday-Sunday, lunch Friday-Sunday at Tidbit.

Pyro Pizza doubled this year, because of barely averted tragedy—the near closing of Cartopia on Hawthorne. And so, despite the fact that owner John Eads now has logistics he didn't anticipate, we are all the better for it, now twice as likely to be within walking distance of the best single-serve pizza in town. The pies are just charred to where the crust bubbles, topped with housemade mozzarella, an amiable sauce and a grace note of Otto's pepperoni. But wait! There are now sandwiches on Division Street ($10), including a pressed Cuban that barely contains its richness, and barbecue-slathered brisket. The world is ever rich. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Signal Station Pizza

8302 N Lombard St., 286-2257, Lunch and dinner daily.

[FUEL STOP] In the cramped ex-gift shop of a decommissioned fuel stop, Signal Station is bedecked on its exterior with the bygone glam of the roadside 1940s, while its interior offers the food of a county fair gone unaccountably twee. Artichoke-heart pizza by the slice ($4.10) sits on pagoda racks near bakery cookies and Blue Bunny ice cream by the scoop ($2.25). As in all of blue-collar Portland, the full-sized specialty pies ($10-$22) are often creative beneath the surface, with sauces ranging among garlic, pesto, bianca and barbecue. It feels like tourism to a forgotten age. Filled mostly with high school and college kids on dates, it's the intersection of beach town and small town at the edge of Portland. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

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WWeek 2015

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