Seriously good pizza and frozen custard in a spruced-up Vancouver strip mall? Thank Alan Maniscalco, who manned the ovens at Southeast Portland’s Ken’s Artisan Pizza for a decade, and his wife/biz partner Shan Wickham.
The duo’s stylish, super-spacious new family haunt Rally Pizza boasts a host of reasons to cross the Columbia: crispy, char-blistered Neapolitan-style pies drizzled with punchy fennel-chile-garlic “flavor sauce,” bright marinara, and house-cured meats; Caesar-y salads showered with crumbs and Parm; and the metro area’s most overachieving vegetable platter, roasted in the pizza oven and drizzled with vibrant sauces, orange miso to harissa.
Maniscalco co-owned Ken’s with baker Ken Forkish and masterminded its seasonal menu, while Wickham served as its pastry ace for seven years; the new restaurant honors that level of quality. Nearly everything at Rally is made in house, from the hand-pulled mozzarella and most of the smoked and cured meats to its homey roster of sweets. But Rally happily strays from Ken’s staunch Italian roots, decorating its generous pies with goodies like smoked and pickled jalapeños and trading gelato for dense, heady Midwestern frozen custard.
Why Vancouver? Well, it turns out Vancouver asked for them. “The whole time we were at Ken’s, people from Vancouver would ask: ‘When you gonna open a place up here?’ Or on the westside?” says Wickham. “Ken was never interested in going to the suburbs. But people are so happy to not have to cross the bridge to get the same quality of food and service that they’re used to in Portland.”
Indeed, the roomy pizzeria, nearly double the size of Ken’s and decorated in vivid oranges and deep blues, is the lynchpin of a very Portland development along busy Mill Plain Road. Rally shares the strip mall with the newest outpost of Smokehouse Tavern, as well as a bottle shop and fancy hardware store. Maniscalco and Wickham were wooed by its developers, Killian Pacific, the same group behind Belmont’s up and coming LOCA (a.k.a., the Goat Blocks).
Since opening in late September, Rally has steadily gained followers for its bright, comforting flavors and appealing prices. The lunch special is an embarrassment of food: a roughly 10-inch pizza and heaping salad for $14. It’s big enough to split, which is good, because you’re gonna want to order a punchy cocktail and dessert too.
At dinner, the pizzas expand to 12–13 inches ($14–17) and Maniscalco tacks on a few more oven-roasted eats, from cheesy baked polenta to the “Pork and Duck,” a house sausage-stuffed porchetta with pickled veggies and a fried duck egg plopped on top.
Any visit to the resolutely chill, family-friendly space also demands a dish of Wickham’s impossibly rich French vanilla frozen custard, served in heaping sundaes or whizzed up with house sweets—zingy lemon curd and gingersnaps to Devil’s food cake—for proper Midwestern concretes (a.k.a. Blizzards). The house favorite, so far, is a luscious campfire sundae, loaded with crumbles of housemade graham crackers and fudge sauce, and amped up with marshmallow goo that the crew cold-smokes at the restaurant.
Regardless of the order, this spot comes with one more perk nearly no quality Portland pizzeria can claim: lots and lots of parking.
8070 E Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver, Washington
11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily