Saturday, August 20, 2011

Impressions: Sizzle Pie

624 E Burnside
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 234-7437

[Photographs by Adam Lindsley]
With so many good pizza options in Portland, it's rare for me to go out of my way for a New York-style slice. Finding a good example of the form outside NYC itself is like rooting for treasure in a piranha tank: you might strike gold, but more often than not, you're just going to get bit. (Wow, my analogies are really getting rusty.) So far I've found one, count it, one great slice joint in the Pacific Northwest (Giannoni's in West Seattle) and a lot of totally fine if unremarkable ones serving completely acceptable pizza. Sizzle Pie is one of the latter.

For hangover food, it's prime. Greasy crust, salty cheese, and processed meats; it gets the job done. The crust itself has good flavor. Early reports found it lacking salt, but based on my recent meal there, they solved that little problem.

Sizzle Pie sells whole pizzas, as well as pizza by the slice. As an added bonus, they also sell half-slices (called cuts), making it a ridiculously inexpensive prospect to sample several types of pizza on any given visit. Tonight I ordered cuts of the D-Beat (cheese), Ace of Spades (pepperoni), and Francesca (jalapeños, pineapple, and smoked mozzarella).

I've thought long and hard about how to describe the D-Beat ($1.50/cut) and Ace of Spades ($1.75/cut), and after hours (okay, seconds) of contemplation the only word that comes to mind is fine. The pizza is just fine. It's good for what it is, which is cheap thin-crust pizza with minimal sauce and cheese. Surprisingly, the flavor of the pizza could almost be described as slightly muted, which is why I highly recommend dousing your slices in Aardvark sauce.

I do wish the slices hadn't been so limp, though if I had ordered whole slices instead of my half-slices, I could have folded them (will have to remember that next time). And I wish the cheese element would have been stronger. But the crust itself is pretty tasty, which is a huge hurdle Sizzle Pie has overcome. It gets some nice char in their deck oven, though char really isn't what you're tasting. It's just a well-salted, crunchy-rimmed wedge of salt and flour. And it's good like that.

The Francesca ($1.75/cut) was a little more interesting. The jalapeños come with plenty of seeds intact, so they go off like firecrackers in your mouth. For those who laugh at the thought of food being too spicy, by all means give this one a shot. Me, I had to ditch some of my peppers to keep my entire jaw from going numb. The downside to the steel-toed kick of the jalapeños is that they completely overpowers any subtlety in the smoked mozzarella; you could have told me it was Daiya and I would have believed you.

Speaking of Daiya, Sizzle Pie does offer vegan options for those of that persuasion. On this matter I will speak no more.

Is Sizzle Pie the Great Portland Hope for New York-style slices? No, unfortunately it's not. But if you're in the neighborhood it's a no-brainer, and they're open until 4 a.m. on the weekends (!) for the hardcore night owls. If I lived within short walking distance I'd hit it up all the time for the bargain aspect alone. As it stands, I'm much closer to Straight from New York Pizza, which is actually a bit better.


RECOMMENDED: Ace of Spades and a squeeze bottle of Aardvark sauce