Sure, Pizza Is on the Marquee, but Dimo’s Apizza Is Aiming for Portland’s Sandwich Pantheon, Too

The most recent addition to the grinder menu is called The Beast—as in “roast beast”—and it’s made almost entirely from scratch in-house.

The menu at Dimo's Apizza is loaded.

There's a white clam pie ($34) and a spicy pepperoni pie ($27). There's wild mushroom ($28) and cacio e pepe ($27). The Father ($28) is topped with sausage and hot pickled peppers, and the Hail Mary ($28) with soppressata, Calabrian chile and Castelvetrano olives. Among the current specials are "This Bacon Is Radicchio!"—bacon, wood-roasted radicchio, caramelized red onion, tomato confit, fontina and thyme—and "The G.O.A.T.," with blistered sun gold tomatoes, sweet summer corn, caramelized red onions, scamorza, goat cheese, parsley, mint and basil (both $29).

But if it were up to chef Doug Miriello, he'd insist you start with a plain pie.

"I love running specials, but at the same time, I'm probably going to eat a cheese pizza," Miriello says. "It's the basis for all judgments of a pizzeria. If a pizzaiolo can't make a cheese or a margherita, then we got problems."

At Dimo's, which opened in mid-July in the former Burnside Brewing space that also hosted a pop-up by Danish brewery Mikkeller last summer, the cheese pie ($22) starts with tomato sauce under a blanket of fresh and dry mozzarella and pecorino, with a post-oven showering of Parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and Maldon sea salt. For a margherita ($24), add basil and subtract the dry mozz.

The wood-fired Acunto brick oven is the same one that was used at the hip-hop-inspired Neapolitan joint P.R.E.A.M.—both restaurants are projects of ChefStable, Kurt Huffman's omnipresent restaurant group—but Miriello's pizza mecca isn't Naples. Rather, it's his home state of Connecticut, where Pizza Jerk's Tommy Habetz and Gracie's Apizza's Craig Milello are also from. Like them, Miriello isn't claiming to make "New Haven pizza"—it requires coal rather than wood, for one thing—but that's the style he aims for: crispier than Neapolitan, but with more toothsomeness and "leopard" char than a New York-style slice.

"That's what I grew up eating, and that's how I like my pizza," says Miriello, whose family go-to was Frank Pepe's The Spot, the 95-year-old pizzeria's original location. "I like a little bit more char than I think most Portlanders are used to—a little bit longer of a bake, and a little bit more of a chew."

Equally inspired by the Italian storefronts of his youth, as well as a stint doing butchery and charcuterie at Gjusta in Los Angeles, Miriello has also made Dimo's a low-key, top-notch Portland sandwich joint. Being from New England, he calls them "grinders," but he won't blame you if you call them subs, heroes or hoagies.

There's chicken and eggplant Parmesan ($15), sausage with broccoli rabe and Jimmy Nardello peppers ($16) and of course, "The Italian" ($16)—mortadella, soppressata and prosciutto cotto—on sesame semolina rolls from the bakery at Bar King, another ChefStable member.

The most recent addition is maybe the most impressive. It's called The Beast—as in "roast beast"—and it's made almost entirely from scratch in-house.

"That was basically my childhood," says Miriello. "I love a rare Italian roast beef sandwich, and I've taught myself how to do it pretty damn well."

Here's the lowdown:


The Meat

This is not your average roast beef from the supermarket deli case. It's a prime, whole top sirloin that Miriello seasons as if it were a Texas brisket. "You just salt the living shit of it," he says. Miriello then follows with a marinade of rosemary thyme, parsley, garlic, chile flake, lots of black pepper and more salt. It sits for 24 hours, then gets trussed, seared and roasted at low temperature "until it's blood rare in the center," Miriello says. After cooling overnight, it's thinly sliced "like you can see your face through it."

The Bread

Miriello worked with Katherine Benvenuti of Bar King's bakery to develop a custom sesame semolina baguette with just the right size and texture. You're not going to break your teeth biting into it, but it's also sturdy enough for Day 2 leftovers. "These baguettes are perfect," Miriello says. "I don't want to sound sacrilegious, but I think they have a little bit more finesse and attention to detail—and certainly the quality of product that goes into them is better—than what you would probably get at an East Coast Italian deli."

The Fixins

There are lots of 'em, including a robust, 12-month, cave-aged Gruyère, a fresh aioli that is slathered onto both sides, local heirloom tomatoes, sliced red onion that's been shocked in ice water, and "shrettuce." Then you close it up. "And if you can close it easily," Miriello says, "you're doing a bad job."

EAT: Dimo's Apizza, 701 E Burnside St., 503-327-8968, 4-9 pm Wednesday-Sunday.