Timothy DeLaGhetto and David So Hit Up the Taste of Little Italy Food Festival
More than just a happy hour, but it’s still a really great happy hour
Family friendly, cozy pizza shop Life of Pie is a Portland mainstay thanks to a massive wood-fired oven that leaves its pizza crust perfectly charred with black bits, but still chewy, and always topped with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Also, it boasts a daily seven-hour happy hour where margherita pizzas are just $5, as are wines and beer. Is it wise to eat an entire margherita pizza by yourself? No. Will you anyway? Most likely.
Casual fine Italian dining with traditional pizzas
A Neapolitan pizza from six-time James Beard Award finalist Cathy Whims sounds fussy, but there’s nothing overwrought about the rustic combinations she dreams up to complement her beautiful crust. Just don’t expect to get it sliced, as that’s not how they do it in Naples. After 9pm a number of her signature pies are severely discounted, as are some bottles of wine to go with it.
Burnside (& other locations)
Punk rock late night pizza spots serving greasy slices
Open late with multiple locations, Sizzle Pie is Portland’s favorite punk rock pizza place. The floppy, thin crust pizza slices are super close to being New York style, but no matter what, you can always find a pepperoni, meat special, vegetarian, and even vegan option by the slice every night. The best part? All locations are open until 3 or 4am, depending on the day of the week, and serve beer and wine until just after 2am, if you want to keep the party going.
Northwest-style pies with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients
Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty is a decidedly Northwest style pizza restaurant. This ostensibly means they incorporate rich homemade tomato sauces using local ingredients, and an array of toppings that might be frowned at in a New York pizza shop, but reflect the seasonality of Portland cuisine. Think squash and ricotta with brown butter in fall, nettles in spring, and locally harvested chanterelles to mark the end of summer. While it’s tempting to stick to classics like the great margherita, Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty really shines when it plays with local flavors and unexpected combinations.
The Pearl District
Chicago-style deep dish in stylish digs
Portland has a few Chicago-style pizza spots, but newcomer The Star, which dropped in the summer of 2019, offers something a bit more upscale than the rest (and it’s more than just sprawling, stylish space). There’s something about the crispy cornmeal crust, rich tomato sauce, and gooey cheese that manages to be satisfyingly indulgent without leaving diners feeling overly full. The thin crust pizzas here are pretty solid, too, but it’s the deep dish that’s the real star.
Iconic Portland pizza dive
Fact: Escape has the most authentic New York slices in the city. Some might say that The Crown or Pizza Jerk take that accolade. Others would likely throw any of our pizzas on the ground and declare them unfit by the rigorous NYC standards. But Escape From New York has been serving its reheated slices of pepperoni and cheese pizzas out of its narrow, dingy space since 1983 to an unending audience, and for that, we’ve gotta give it up.
New Haven-style pizza that’s worth the wait
The line outside of Apizza Scholls has become as iconic as the pies themselves. Unlike certain other spots in the city that boast a long waiting period, Apizza Scholls is worth it, featuring handcrafted, thin-crust pizza with only the essential toppings. There’s no calling ahead, they have a limit on ingredients for custom pizzas (and no substitutions or omissions on the house ones), and when they run out of dough, you run out of luck. But the pizzas coming out of the electric ovens aren’t just some of the best in the city, but some of the best in the country.
New York Style slices in a very Portland food hall
Though it comes from the same Ken Forkish as Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Checkerboard’s pie is distinctly different. More along the lines of a New York pizza than the smaller, thinner crusted Neapolitans, it still reflects Forkish’s measured hands at baking, with perfectly formed dough and just the right amount of toppings, whether it be a simple margherita or the ever-controversial Hawaiian, you can find it at the bustling food hall Pine Street Market.
Thick crust Sicillian style pizza… with ranch dressing
What started in Isaac Brock’s bar Poison’s Rainbow, Ranch Pizza has since left to focus on its own restaurant in the Woodlawn area. There, this old-school vibing pizzeria slings its square, thick-crust Sicillian style pizza. Crispy on the bottom, chewy in the middle, and with just enough toppings to keep the whole thing balanced, all pizza here comes with a generous side of ranch dressing. Unorthodox, perhaps. But delicious, definitely.
Wood-fired, Neapolitan style pizzas
Ken Forkish’s eponymous pizza place has long led the city’s trend of wood oven, thin-crust Neapolitan style pizzas. The pies are simple, with dollops of fresh mozzarella resting in the tangy tomato sauce, with just a few toppings each. Whether you’re getting it with olives, peppers, or soppressata, it’s highly recommended -- even required -- that you add a pile of fresh, bitter arugula on top. Grab a glass of wine or a Negroni for the full “I wish I could be on the Italian coast but I’m broke so this works” experience.
Bold new pizza spot with unconventional NY-style pies
A New York-style pizza topped with Tommy Habetz’s (Bunk Sandwiches) indulgent toppings, Pizza Jerk has become a mainstay in Portland’s food and drink industry culture, as well as the city at large. While you can always find a slice of cheese or pepperoni, you can also find pizzas topped with char siu and pineapple, ribs, and even chicken Parmigiana. It’s over the top, it’s extravagant, and it’s necessary & delicious.
Restaurant and cocktail bar with light, doughy pizzas
One of the original ChefStable projects, Oven & Shaker is a collaboration between expert pizza chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana (a fantastic pizza joint in its own right) and venerable bartender Ryan Magarian. Today it continues to deliver on the promise it started with back in 2011: excellent craft cocktails paired with delicious wood-fired oven pizza in a casual, saloon-style atmosphere.
Hip vegan pizza spot that’ll redefine how you see pies
New on the pizza scene, Virtuous Pizza is nobly battling the inherent idea that a pizza must have, at the very least, cheese to be considered such. Or, more simply, it champions that idea that pizza cannot only be vegan, but can actually be vegan and good. Cashew nut cheeses, vegetarian meatballs, Buffalo cauliflower, etc... it’s all vegan, and all pleasing. You can even order any pizza gluten-free, for your pickiest, most Portlandish friends. Or, take your most carnivorous friend and watch them fall in love with it.
Neighborhood bar with pizza, vegan options, and drinks
East Glisan resembles a classic Portland pizzeria in that it’s a casual, laid-back bar that happens to have excellently prepared, wood-fired licked pizzas. It boasts a selection of vegan options, including pizza, but also sides (like the delightful chickpea fritters), as well as a great tap of rotating beers. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the bar serves its signature Detroit style pizzas in square pans, but get ‘em fast -- those tend to sell out quickly.
Late-night bar with New York-style pizza
Renovating an uninspiring deli into a late night pizza bar was a brilliant move on the part of Vitaly Paley and Co. The Crown, which replaced Penny Diner in the summer of 2017, is a welcome addition to the late-night Downtown scene, providing revelers a spot to grab a slice of pizza or full pie, along with some great cocktails, beer, and wine. Most of the pies reflect Paley’s time living in New York, though the fried chicken with ranch, pickles, and chili honey is a surprising, unconventional treat.
Worker-friendly pizzeria with games and music
Scottie Rivera of Scottie’s Pizza is from Brooklyn, so you know he knows what makes a good pie. And while he does, indeed, bake some great pizza, it’s his -- and his wife/business partner Amy Coplen’s -- labor ethos that sets the spot apart from the rest of the city’s pizza joints, as they pay their workers a living wage of $15 an hour. You can also pay it forward and help someone else out with a slice. Swing by on the first Friday of the month after 10pm, when they bust out the disco ball and make giant, 28-inch pies with huge slices for $5 to $8 each.