Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Impressions: Scottie's Pizza Parlor

2128 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97202
(971) 544-7878

[Photographs by Adam Lindsley]
Almost always, slice shops are destined to disappoint. That's because pizza by the slice, typically a parbaked pie cut into slices and then baked again upon order, is inherently a weaker product than a fully cooked pizza served hot and fresh. It simply isn't wise to cook a whole pie in its entirety and hope that you can sell all 8 slices immediately after its egress from the oven. Some places, like DiFara in New York City, can do that because of the sheer demand for anything touched by the fingertips of Dom DeMarco. But most can't claim that kind of zealotry or draw those kinds of crowds.

My apologies to Scottie's Pizza Parlor for starting off this little write-up on a negative note, but my point is that while most slice shops aren't really putting out a good product, Scottie's Pizza Parlor is, in both slice and whole-pie form.

Proprietor Scott Rivera has worked in a few notable pizzerias around Portland, including Baby Doll, East Glisan Pizza Lounge, and Handsome Pizza. Rivera brought that same sensibility to his new shop in the old Spielman Bagels spot on Division, which joins those pizzerias on the very short list of the city's best pizza by the slice.

The sourdough starter
Automatically putting him ahead of the game is the fact that Rivera's dough is naturally leavened by a sourdough starter, which gives the crust a whisper of tang after a two-day ferment. He uses a flour blend that's partially unsifted, and that contributes to additional flavor that most crusts just can't muster.

The quality doesn't stop at the crust, though. A ladleful of impeccable crushed Bianco (yes, that Bianco) DiNapoli tomatoes and several fat dollops of creamy house-pulled mozzarella help the Margherita sing after a quick trip to the electric deck oven cranked to 685 degrees F.

Garlic knots
Yes, electric deck, the harbinger of most bad pizza in this or any country. That's because most businesses that own them have no idea what to do with them, thinking that a twist of the dial to 500 degrees will do the trick. Well, it will, if your trick is to serve pizza with a blond, biscuit-dry crust. I became an electric deck convert after discovering that Portland's best pizzeria, Apizza Scholls, uses one and praises its ease of use compared to finicky wood-fired ovens. Scottie's is making smart use of its electricity and turning out pies with gorgeous char with nary a stick of kindling in sight.

Italian ice from Mita's Italian Ice in Gresham, OR
I mentioned before that Scottie's serves some of the best pizza by the slice in Portland. That's true, but these New York-style pies really shine when you order them whole. The crust has more life, the sauce hasn't started desiccating, and the flavors are rounder, fuller, brighter. That said, if you're running solo and on a tight budget, two $2 plain slices are damn hard to beat (and markedly better than anything you'll get from Atlas Pizza down the street).

Scottie's Pizza Parlor is still young and has plenty of room to grow. But this is such a promising start, and a welcome addition to the SE Portland pizza scene.

OVEN: Electric

RECOMMENDED: Pepperoni pizza w/green chilies

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quick Impressions: Old Town Pizza

Old Town Pizza
226 NW Davis St.
Portland, OR 97200
(503) 222-9999

[Photograph by Adam Lindsley]

If memory serves, the first pizzeria in Portland I visited was Old Town Pizza. I'm sure I read about raves about it in some Chowhound thread, back when that was a thing. So I went. I vaguely remember being unimpressed by whatever I ordered, decided it wasn't for me, and ignored it thereafter.

Flash-forward several years and Old Town Pizza came back up on my radar, though the exact reason why escapes me. I recalled my less-than-positive feelings about the pizza from my initial visit, but decided to give them another shot.

Well, it's the same old humdrum "pizzeria-style" pizza they've always served.

The main offender is their crust, which is just awful. Dense as a pretzel but far less flavorful, it's a leave-it-on-the-plate affair. The sauce is a touch on the sweet side, but their Italian sausage was even sweeter, too sweet for me. I will say I approve of their pepperoni, which curled into glorious little grease goblets, as all the best pepperoni does (see here). 

There is one redeeming factor for visiting Old Town Pizza (or at least their Old Town location): they're located in a fantastic old building with all the juicy Portland history that goes with it. Great atmosphere. Mediocre pizza.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Division Street Pizza Crawl

[Photograph by Adam Lindsley]
Besides evolving into Portland's latest Restaurant Row, Southeast Division Street (west of Cesar E Chavez Boulevard) upped its pizzeria count to 8 this year with the addition of Atlas Pizza and Pizza Maria. And that's not counting the Domino's on 20th. Nowhere else in the city is there such a concentration of good pizza, so if your stomach can handle it, here's a pizza crawl to put your might to the test.

Check out the story over at The Oregonian.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Breakfast Pizza in Portland

[Photography by Adam Lindsley]

Portland has a sad paucity of breakfast/brunch pizza, and it's only gotten worse over the years. To my knowledge, there are only five spots still serving it, and one doesn't even serve it before noon.

Head on over to The Oregonian to see my rundown of the last bastions of breakfast pizza in our fair city.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Impressions: East Glisan Pizza Lounge

East Glisan Pizza Lounge
8001 NE Glisan Ave.
Portland, OR 97213
(971) 279-4273

[Photograph by Adam Lindsley]

The only really good new pizzeria to emerge in Portland lately, East Glisan Pizza Lounge comes courtesy of the former sous chef of NW Portland's Oven & Shaker (which I really need to get around to reviewing one of these days, because they're pretty great). It's certainly the only good pizza in the Montavilla neighborhood.

Read my impressions of the pizza at East Glisan Pizza Lounge at The Oregonian's website, OregonLive.com.

Impressions: Pinky's

3990 N. Interstate Ave.
Portland, OR 97227
(503) 282-1259

[Photograph by Adam Lindsley]

Pinky's attempts to generate buzz about its pizza by offering all kinds of wacky toppings, from kimchi to shrimp ceviche. Unfortunately, none of it is very good. But they're nice folks.

Not to rub salt in the wound, but Pinky's has 5 stars on Yelp. If that isn't an indicator of how useless Yelp is for valid food recommendations, I don't know what is.

But as I said, they're nice folks.

Read my impressions of Pinky's pizza over at The Oregonian's website, OregonLive.com.