There are no new Portland restaurants in the time of COVID-19. Somehow, though, there is new pizza. Chef Joshua McFadden's new joint, Cicoria, wasn't supposed to open until spring or early summer inside the former Roman Candle space, which is still under construction. But the "tavern-style" pie developed by McFadden and baker Daniel Green was already dialed in. So with McFadden's other restaurants, Ava Gene's and Tusk, pivoting to socially distanced takeout, adding pizza to the dinner menu just made sense. Call it the longest, biggest "friends and family" preview ever. There are four standard pies—cheese, pepperoni, white and pomodoro—plus a daily special. You can also get everything from eggs and raw cookie dough to Tusk labne and McFadden's Caesar dressing. Order online, pull into the parking lot at a pre-appointed time, open your trunk, and let an Ava Gene's staffer bring it out to you.
The pizzas are cut cross- and length-wise into little squares—the "party" or "tavern" cut found all over the Midwest, originally in bars that had no kitchen. Not all pieces are the same. "It's like a personality test almost," says McFadden. "Like who wants a little corner, who wants the square one, who wants the inside ones? It's become kind of a funny little game at the restaurant."
But Cicoria brings quality ingredients to a style of pizza originally meant to be washed down with Schlitz. The flour is freshly milled and regional, the crust is 50 percent whole wheat, and while it's crispier than Neapolitan or a foldable New York slice, it's neither buttery nor greasy like Chicago thin crust.
The pies feature a mix of fresh mozzarella, which is hand-pulled in-house, and aged mozzarella, uncooked sauce (California tomatoes milled with salt) and Italian oregano, which comes dried on its branches. "For whatever reason—well, no surprise—they do it best," says McFadden. "It's quite concentrated and very fragrant."
ORDER: Cicoria is available for takeout 4-8 pm Monday-Saturday. Pickup is at 3377 SE Division St. See submarinehospitality.com/takeout, or call 503-444-7537.