This place is, without question, one of the highest rated and most sought after pizza joints in Portland. Open only from 5 to 9:30 pm (or when they run out of dough, which apparently happens), people start lining up at 4:30 and earlier for their shot at one of these pies. Reservations for up to 8 people are accepted, but be prompt because you will lose your spot and believe me, there’s somebody waiting there more than happy to take it.
We showed up at a quarter after 5 on a Saturday and were asked how many pizzas we’d be ordering (to reserve the dough) and given and estimated wait time of 45 minutes. Not too bad really, all things considered. And there’s ice cream, coffee, booze & video games all on the same block that can more than adequately occupy your waiting time, even making it feel like it just flew by.
The dining room, on the other side of the building, with its own entrance and peaceful atmosphere, keeps the lucky members of the already-seated club separated entirely from the hectic, rabidly hungry still-waiting crowd on the other side. And, once seated, the staff is friendly and prompt to get the process of putting food in your face underway.
The Caesar Salad was so good and gone so fast that, outside of it being listed on the check at the end of the meal, there’s almost no evidence that it ever existed at all. Whole romaine heart leaves, freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and house made croutons, tossed in the house made Caesar dressing, will have you scraping the plate for any last remnants in anticipation of your main course.
And that’s when it happens; a big, 18″ pie with just the right amount of toppings and just the right amount of char on the crust appears, as if from nowhere, steaming on the table in front of you. Now surely it was placed there at some point by a set of careful human hands, but the trance-like state you entered upon first whiff of the precious fare will keep you from even noticing.
Bacon Bianca – $24
The pizza… ahhh, the pizza. It’s everything you hoped it would be. Tons of options on the menu, we went with the Bacon Bianca and the Salami & Green Olive. The bacon is cured in-house and the salami comes from Portland favorite Olympia Provisions. Both pizzas are made with whole milk mozzarella and come with Grana Padano, a lesser-known but oft-preferred alternative to Parmigiano. The lite tomato sauce is simple yet robust, a sweet and savory combo that pleases the palate. The crust is light and airy with a satisfying crunch that perfectly handles its job of helping to transfer all of the delicious, fresh toppings into your mouth and would be flavorful enough to enjoy on its own. These guys know how to make dough.
Salami & Green Olive – $26
Overall, it’s worth the crowd and it’s worth the wait. Is it worth all the hype? We think so. When it’s all said and done, and you walk out of that little spot on Hawthorne, you’d be hard pressed to convince me that it wasn’t one of the best pizza experiences you’ve had in Portland.