Light as a cloud, thicker than a slab of focaccia: thick crust square pizza is certainly having its moment this year, especially as Detroit-style pizza places including Boxcar Pizza, Assembly Brewing, and Pop Pizza rocket in popularity. But the thick crust rectangular pizza at No Saint has no relation to the Motor City. Instead, this pizza recipe affectionately known as “grandma-style pizza” was developed by two Italian Americans from upstate New York (though none of their grandmas actually made pizza).
For most of the week, couple Gabriella Casabianca and Anthony Siccardi work at Sweedeedee (we’re big fans of their dinner service). But every Monday and Tuesday evening at natural wine bar Dame on NE Killingsworth, Casabianca and Siccardi run their own pop-up: No Saint, which originally launched as a small plates pop-up at Vivienne in 2019, then began selling pizza for takeout at Dame in April 2020.
“We both were working in different restaurants, and we had gotten to this moment of stagnation, of just, ‘Okay, we've been doing this for a while, it's really hard to find joy as a restaurant worker, and we should try to do something to kind of get back to that and like why we fell in love with this industry,’” says Casabianca.
At No Saint, the duo churn out grandma-style pizzas for outdoor dining or takeout. Guests can build their own pizza, with options ranging from anchovies to Calabrian chili to sesame crust to hot honey, or choose from one of the monthly options—August featured a roast corn pizza and a peach-sausage pie.
One thing that sets this pizza apart: much like your grandma’s kitchen, this pop-up doesn’t have a pizza oven, which can bake pizzas quickly at high temperatures. Don’t come expecting a quick dinner; these pies take time to bake. Even the preparation of the high-hydration dough, which gets cold-fermented to help make the gluten more digestible and the pizza lighter, takes at least 48 hours.
But the results are well worth the wait. When the pizza arrives, the crust is so thick it resembles a Boos block cutting board. Biting into it is a journey through an outer crackly crust into an airy, chewy interior with steam escaping from its weblike structure. One of August’s monthly pies combined salty sheep’s cheese with fresh peaches, a little aleppo pepper, melty mozzarella, and crumbles of hot Italian sausage. And if you’re building your own pizza, no matter what toppings you choose (I picked ricotta and hot honey), you must get the sesame seed crust, which propels the crust to even greater levels of nutty, crunchy goodness.
The rest of the menu is no slouch, either, with dishes like anchovy-heirloom tomato salad and chicken milanese. September’s menu will be a homage to Siccardi and Casabianca’s East Coast Italian American upbringing: antipasti boards, caprese salad, calamari with red sauce, New York-style white pie, and a meatball parm pizza, all prepared with expertise that Siccardi gained working in pizza since age 16, then later as sous chef at Portland institutions including OK Omens and Tastebud. Casabianca, meanwhile, used to run the wine program at Han Oak, and she brings that same expertise to the menu at No Saint, which offers a small selection of accessible, pizza-friendly natural wines—a red, a white, and a bubbly option, including the refreshingly light Lambrusco I tried last week. And the desserts, including an artful peach semifreddo or a chewy oat milk cookie, hit that balance of comfort food and elegance, just like grandma style cuisine should.