By Nino Padova May 19, 2009

Pizza may have been born in Italy, but it’s become about as American as apple pie. In fact, today some 93 percent of Americans dive into a pizza at least once a month. That’s around 20 pounds of pizza per year. Per person. Of course, with people like Portland’s Mark Doxtader producing addictive hand-tossed pies, it’s hardly any wonder we’re gorging ourselves on all that doughy goodness.

Even better, Doxtader has managed to put a Portland spin on his pizza. Every weekend for the past eight years, the former Canby farmer turned pizzaiolo has schlepped a two-ton oven to the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University, where he has been dishing out wood-fired slices to long lines of loyal fans. And just this spring he opened Tastebud, a family-friendly pizzeria tucked away on an unlovely stretch of SE Milwaukie Avenue.

Doxtader’s formula is simple: thick layers of seasonal, local ingredients are applied to dough that’s zapped to perfection in a 600-degree wood-burning oven. The resulting pies (big enough for two) are rustic and somewhat messy, but in all the right ways. Of the half-dozen pizzas offered, a salami piccante pie ($19) is light and airy. Even the more heady creations—such as a judiciously dressed pie of roasted peaches, pancetta, mascarpone, and arugula ($22)—feel down-home. And judging from the appetizers on the menu, Doxtader’s nine years spent tending rows of vegetables have given him a sixth sense for knowing when a head of lettuce or a carrot is at its peak. A salad of mixed greens, basil, heirloom tomatoes, and red peppers ($7) shimmers in its elemental earthiness. Meaning that, while eating pizza may be an American pastime, Doxtader has turned the act of eating his pizza into an inherently Portland pastime.

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