Introducing Oro di Napoli

North Williams' newest eatery is anchored around a 7,000-pound Italian pizza oven, cracking out blistered crusts with fresh toppings.

By Kelly Clarke March 22, 2013

Dressed in Portland’s standard-issue industrial chic—open kitchen, exposed lightbulbs, stacks of firewood—Oro Di Napoli lacks Oven & Shaker’s boozy glamour or Via Tribunali’s laundry list of überauthentic pies. Tucked in a glass-framed corner of N Williams Avenue’s new Albert Building, “the Gold of Naples” was designed as a fine-dining showcase for ace Italian chef Kenny Giambalvo’s eats. But when the Bluehour alum left the just-opened project last winter, it morphed into a more casual eatery, still struggling for definition. 

Luckily, Oro hasn’t wandered far from the heart of its operation: a 7,000-pound Italian Stefano Ferrara oven designed for straight-up Neopolitan pizza purists. Oro specializes in pillowy, pinkie-thin crusts heady with char and sea salt, topped with super-fresh Italian classics like rapini and sausage or quattro formaggi, each the size of a dinner plate for $14–18. The namesake Oro Di Napoli pie skips red sauce in favor of bubbly mozzarella, thin wisps of onion, and browned potatoes—plus olives and anchovies for a lip-smacking salt bomb. Piccante pizza is a delightful fireball of bright tomato sauce, hot peppers, and olives, lavished with spicy soppressata. But the surprise is “pizza fritta,” a decadent, deep-fried Neapolitan street-food classic tasting like a ricotta-oozing, salami-stuffed elephant ear. Oro should open a late-night takeout window just to hawk this guilty pleasure.

Oro Di Napoli
3632 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97212

Salads are big enough to split, including a surprisingly great house salad pairing greens, mellow gorgonzola dressing, and frizzled onions. Owner William Kim recently added a selection of pastas back to the menu after removing them for “consistency issues.” But Oro’s whole concept still needs tinkering. A fancy glass chandelier and wood tables whisper “date spot,” but the fluorescent-lit fridge case shoved against the back wall and awful Italian-themed muzak scream corner deli. The brief wine list bores; desserts are wildly inconsistent. 

Thanks to an eager staff committed to improving both food and vibe, it adds up to a charming, if uneven, dining experience. Oro Di Napoli isn’t quite golden yet, but the potential for a neighborhood gem shines.  

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