Have we reached peak Portland pizza yet? Emphatically, no. Yes, the city burns with irresistible rounds from pizza-philosophers making pies their own, with rigor and passion. Our cup runneth over. But we are a greedy bunch.
So with great joy we come to herald the opening of a singular new slice shop from Scottie's Pizza Parlor. For me, Scottie's, opened in 2015 in Hosford-Abernethy on SE Division, is a top 5 Portland pie. Alas, it's available as whole pies, to go only, and sell-outs are frequent. The bright new 28-seat spot, slated to open December 15 at 635 NW 21st Ave, will include whole pies as well as six daily slices in the case up front, to eat in or take out Tuesday through Saturday.
What's the big deal? Typically, slice shops serve cheese, pepperoni, sausage. Scottie’s will showcase signatures from its 11-pie collection. So get ready: Scottie’s burrata pie is about to land in slice form, dollops of decadent, fresh soft cheese included. Slices of Scottie’s acclaimed Defino (grandma style) pie will also be available—made with tomato sauce on top (not the bottom), vivid seasonings, a mix of fresh and aged cheese, and thin, crusty-browned edges.
My case for Scottie’s, overall: no place better distills the essence of 1970s New York, Mean Streets New York, in pie form. Owner Scottie Rivera wears his inspiration on his sleeves, literally: every day he wears a different tee or baseball cap bearing the shop logo of one of his hometown heroes from Brooklyn, NY. But, as is typical in Portland, Rivera pulls a hodgepodge of pizza ideologies into his oven gestalt, cooked at 780 degrees in a Swedish deck oven. Typically, a Scottie pie sports a thin, sour crust; leopard-spotting; big, foldable slices;sauce made from organic tomatoes (three kinds); careful, balanced seasonings; and quality ingredients. It’s all melded into something ineluctably crispy, chewy, tender, and tangy. (The secret, he swears, is the generous Spanish olive oil zigzagged on top).
If anything, Scottie's has improved over time. You have the sense of dough nerds hanging out, always trying to be better. The parlor's brain trust include pizza makers Josh Fairbanks, known for his terrific Honey Bagels, and Hope Tejedas of the occasional pop-up Sunday Bread Project.
Slice options will extend to Frankie P, a tribute to pizzaiolo Frank Pinello of Brooklyn's Best Pizza. “He's a big huge inspiration for me,” says Rivera. “How he built the shop, the vibe, the enthusiasm, the obsession over details. My fave slice is his white pie with sesame seeds in the crust, an influence from New York hoagie rolls. It has a generous rim and ricotta. But what brings up the flavor is the roasted red onions, with crispy black edges but still soft and caramelized. It's finished with parsley. So much fun to make.”
Of course, pepperoni slices and cheese slices are among the offerings at Scottie's Northwest. This being Portland, Scottie's will offer a vegan slice with, natch, house-made cashew cheese. Beer, wine, and a few cocktails will also be available.
Given all this, what is Rivera most excited about in the new location? The red plywood-mold contour booths. “I grew up sliding into booths like this at Smiling Pizzeria,” he says, flashing a megawatt smile. “To me, this is the dream.”