Pizza on Earth

Slice of Life

Life is a banquet.

By Camas Davis May 19, 2009 Published in the September 2006 issue of Portland Monthly

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It was inevitable. Invite a few folks over to your place for handmade-from-scratch pizza every Monday night, and more people were bound to show up the next Monday night. And when the growing number of Monday night insiders started spreading the word–relying heavily on justifiable hyperbole like "the best sauce ever" or "the most perfect crust in the whole world"–the word was liable to get Babeled. People would surely show up on the wrong nights, seeking ’za enlightenment.

If you’re Ken Forkish, owner of Ken’s Artisan Bakery (home of the Monday night pizza event), you keep your fans hoping that you’ll open up another little joint that serves pizza more than one night a week, while you wait patiently for the right space. And when you find it in an old paint store at the south end of the ever-lengthening restaurant row on 28th Ave above and below East Burnside, you stick a sign up that teases, "Ken’s Artisan Pizza: Coming Soon."

If you’re one of Ken’s many followers, you pine impatiently through winter, spring and nearly half the summer for the pizza pangs to end. And come opening day in July, when Ken has finally gotten his custom-made wood-burning oven up and running and had a cord or two of oak delivered, when he has Bitburger and Hair of the Dog pouring from the taps, has dough rising and fennel sausage and soppressata and basil and anchovies at the ready, with tomato sauce bubbling away on the stove and this week’s plans for the seasonal roasted veggie plate all laid out, the doors and windows fling open, and you stand in line with the rest of us poor suckers, staving off a shared, long-suffered hunger for five nights a week worth of Ken’s pizza, as we chant to ourselves, "Life is a banquet. Life is a banquet. Life is a banquet."