Best Restaurants 2021

Pizza Hits Peak Pie Time in Portland

Three newcomers bolster the case that Portland is America’s best pizza city.

By Karen Brooks November 19, 2021 Published in the Winter 2021/2022 issue of Portland Monthly

Portland finally won a figurative best pizza Oscar this year when articles flooded the internet after an exhaustively researched new book shocked the world with its crown for America’s best pizza city. But we laid out Portland’s secret years ago, true then and true now: every great style is sampled here, then remixed by pizza fanatics doing their own thing, infectiously, with art and craft. These newcomers solidify the argument.

Image: Michael Novak

Cafe Olli

Fuck, that’s delicious. I actually said these words out loud after my first bite of a wood-fired pie served outdoors at a pop-up from people I’d never heard of. What made me bleep? A gorgeous, puff-charred crust jeweled with whipped ricotta, caramelized onions, and hand-stretched mozz, then topped with a riff on a Roman salad—a vast field of puntarelle (chicory) greens dressed in lemons, olive oil, and anchovies. I’m not one for snap judgments, but this collective of cooks, opening an all-day café in late 2021 in the former Ned Ludd space, has major promise. 3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd,, @cafeolli

Dimo’s Apizza

Dimo’s came into this life like a demon-seed child, able to charm or incinerate a pizza with a glance. Now, the former parking-lot pop-up has an indoor location and a more consistent old-school pizza. The texture is pure, intense crisp-crackle-crunch—just the thought of it occupies my head like an earworm. The best boasts little more than concentrated tomatoes and garlic (Russo) or a wealth of spicy soppressata (Hail Mary). Being a heretic, I loved a special boasting creamed corn butter. To channel New Haven’s coal-oven pies, owner Doug Miriello deploys a regular oven to start, then finishes the rounds in a fire-breathing wood oven hand-built in Naples. My kind of nut. 701 E Burnside St,, @dimospdx

Pizza Thief

At this friendly new neighborhood slice shop, dig into daily pies and behold: that soul-satisfying mix of flop and oil and leopard-spotted char. You could think New York pies, but don’t. The crust is Portland crust, bread baker’s crust: chewy, alive with natural leavening, with twinges of local rye. Pepperoni is the ticket, but no arguing with the truffle-cheesed, mushroom-centric Wildwood. Gluten-free pies available. 2610 NW Vaughn St,, @pizzathiefpdx

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