Word on the Portland streets is that Gracie’s Apizza, which started as a food cart and opened as a brick-and-mortar in late 2019, has some of the best pizza in town, so I set aside some time this week for a trip to St. Johns. I’m a big fan of cheese in all forms, so under normal circumstances, I’d pick a pie laden with mozzarella in every bite. But much like Prince Philip in The Crown, owner Craig Melillo doesn’t shy away from picking a favorite child. The tomato pie is clearly listed on Gracie’s online menu as “the best pie,” so I had no choice but to try it.
Let’s just say that the pie—made with a tangy, nutty, naturally fermented dough cooked to a crackly, charred crisp in a wood-fired oven, then simply topped with robust sweet-savory tomato sauce, slices of garlic, a smattering of oregano, and a delicate sprinkling of grated pecorino—made me reassess my belief in what a good pizza should be. It reminded me of some of the cheeseless pizzas I’d tried in Naples, three-euro delights composed simply of good crust, capers, anchovies, and tomato sauce.
And if you’re looking to make up for the dairy intake you missed out on with the tomato pie? Try the shockingly good house-made ice cream—in my case, chocolate and sesame. It’s light on the sesame flavor, but the texture nails that balance of airy and creamy that’s so hard to find—much like a good gelato. I thought a half pint would last me two servings; the whole thing was gone in about a minute.