Pizza Pop-Up No Saint Will Open a Restaurant on NE Killingsworth, and a Separate Wine Shop
Even in Portland’s vast pizza scene, two upstate New York transplants, couple Gabriella Casabianca and Anthony Siccardi, have long-dreamed of opening a version of the pizza parlors they grew up going to. They’re also thoroughly embedded in Portland’s scene of natural wine and friends-of-farmers cuisine. At No Saint, their three-year-old popup that’s soon getting a permanent home, nostalgia-steeped pies with a zeal for local produce meet bootstrap natural wine. Growing up, Casabianca and her grandmother had a running bit: “You’re no saint,” her grandmother would joke, referencing her biblical name. The phrase stuck, and felt representative of the couple’s approach to food and beverage: “We’re never going to take ourselves too seriously,” says Siccardi.
They first served their grandma-style square pies in 2019 at Vivienne Kitchen, putting on once-monthly dinners at the café, which has since turned into a wine bar and bookshop, next to the Hollywood Theatre. During COVID, they moved to Dame, the wine bar off of NE Killingsworth, popping up every Monday and Tuesday night for two years.
In January of this year, they put a pause on the endeavor, taking time to regroup in hopes of finding a permanent home for No Saint. Casabianca helped re-open N Albina’s Sweedeedee, serving as the beloved café-turned-full-on-restaurant’s beverage director and service manager. Siccardi’s first job in Portland was making pizza at Tastebud in Multnomah Village; before starting No Saint, he also cooked at the now-closed Italian fixture of SE Division, Ava Gene’s, and has filled in at Sweedeedee and the Ava Gene’s alumni-founded pizza haven Café Olli (which serves great pizza in its own right) while searching out spots to land No Saint.
Shortly after the pause, a prospect came up: slow-food pizza pioneers Handsome Pizza’s Northeast Portland space was closing and would be available to rent. With its wood-fire oven and expansive patio just blocks away from their former home at Dame, the restaurant was perfect for No Saint. But after talks with the landlords, the deal fell through; Casabianca and Siccardi moved on from the idea, and when their friend Sebastian Cisneros, owner of Cloudforest chocolate, proposed they open a bottle shop inside of his soon-to-open tasting room at 935 SE Hawthorne, they jumped at the chance. They signed the lease and plotted to serve snacks and natural wine, and use the space as a jumping-off point to eventually fund their pizza joint.
Then they got a call that the Handsome space was available again. So they’re opening both, at the same time.
No Saint (in the former Handsome Pizza/Seastar Bakery space at 1615 NE Killingsworth, which closed in August) will follow from the roots laid by their pop up, but they’re blowing it out with more room to play. The budget for renovations before they open at the end of the month is limited, but spirits are high.
“We’re gonna paint and bring in some new furniture and then basically rock it for a year or so—until we have the capital to maybe close down for a few weeks and do a bigger renovation,” says Siccardi.
“It’s scrappy as all hell,” says Casabianca. “Our budget is like, $25 a chair.”
In spite of, or maybe because of the restrictions, Casabianca says, rest assured, “It will be really romantic.”
“We’re gonna do pizzas and salads big time,” says Siccardi, adding that they eventually plan to add a few wood oven-baked pastas like lasagnetta (a four-layer personal lasagna) and manicotti al forno (northern Italian-style crepes baked with ricotta and salt-cured lemon) to the menu.
As far as the pizza goes: “We’re really going to be informed by [Upstate New York pizza] as far as dough and style and ambiance is involved, and then everything else is very Pacific Northwest—toppings are very vegetable-forward,” says Siccardi.
At their pop-ups, they served square, grandma-style pan pies, due in part to nostalgia and in part to the fact they didn’t have a pizza oven. Now that they’ve got a traditional pizza oven to play with, Siccardi is introducing 18-inch round pies, with crust made from local grains.
The grandma-style pies are simply dressed with tomato and mozzarella (with the option to add their signature sesame seed crust) and will sit next to farm-fresh salads and conservatively topped thin-crust round pies, like their take on a cacio e pepe and one with a cream sauce made from the Calabrian chile-spiced “spreadable salami” ’nduja, carrots, and salsa verde.
To open No Saint, Casabianca and Siccardi are partnering with Jane Smith, the owner of Dame. “Our time at Dame was extremely special and influenced our trajectory in so many different forms,” says Casabianca. “We share so many ideas when it comes to food, natural wine, and hospitality.”
Mattino’s (in the forthcoming Cloudforest tasting room) will be a bottle shop offering glass pours and snacks, with a news stand holding Casabianca’s favorite food and wine-centered publications—mostly from small and independent presses. The menu will be “very snacky,” says Siccardi, including olives, nuts, Chex mix, and premade sandwiches from No Saint. Also on offer will be sliced-to-order cold cuts and a rotating selection of cheese from Cowbell, the artisan shop down the street.
“I want it to be a space [where] you would come and talk to a winemaker and eat a sandwich, look at the magazines, then go home and cook dinner,” says Casabianca.
Wines will be exclusively naturally produced, and sourced from both local and European wineries.
As if that wasn’t enough, the couple also own a natural wine label. Spumoni Wines started as a pet project during the pandemic, but they vinified 12 tons of grapes this harvest season, which ends right about now. Following their interests, all of their wines are naturally produced and biodynamic, made with grapes from Yakima, Washington. Siccardi says they’re excited to offer a red blend “pizza wine” on tap at No Saint; currently, their bottles can be found locally at Sweedeedee, Someday, Bellwether Bar, Real Good Food, and World Foods.
It’s been a long road to this point for the pair. And if you’re dizzy trying to keep up, so are they: “Trying to explain the timeline of everything is like trying to make sense of a bowl of spaghetti,” says Casabianca.
Both Mattino's and No Saint are set to open at the end of November, with specific dates to be announced via No Saint's Instagram.