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