The more fancy new pizza we see in Portland—the Forno Bravos are firing across the city now, filling the streets with the scent of toasted hardwood—the more you have to hand it to Brian Spangler. The maestro's neo-Neapolitan-style pies with a thin-but-stratigraphic crust and hyper-flavorful toppings have been the best in the city since 2005.
No legitimate challenger has ever emerged—whenever someone says otherwise, feel free to politely ignore the rest of their opinions. Spangler's secrets are many, and include days of proofing for the dough, an electric oven that provides consistency you can't get from wood, and a strict three-topping limit to ensure even baking.
The rest of the formula is pretty simple. The salads are crisp, the beer list is small but well-curated, and there's an arcade room to keep you busy while you wait out the lines, which are more manageable than legend suggests.
The best thing about the artisan-pizza boom from the vantage point of those of us in the Hawthorne District is that things have gotten a little more laid-back at Scholls lately. You can now eat here in about the same time it takes to get a meal at a great many lesser places.
Eat: The much-imitated, never-duplicated sausage and Mama Lil's ($26) is the best pizza in Portland.
Drink: They usually have a fresh keg of Boneyard RPM tapped.
Most popular dish: Sausage and Mama.
Noise level: 47/100
Who you'll eat with: Families, Hawthorne-neighborhood types and pizza snobs on a pilgrimage.
Year opened: It started on a 5-acre Christmas tree farm in the little town of Scholls back in 2000, which evolved into the short-lived Scholls Public House in 2004, and finally the current spot in 2005.