The Absolute Best Pizza in Portland
From traditional Neapolitan to boundary-pushing.
Long ago, Portland broke the curse of “no good pizza places” -- despite what recent East Coast expats may say about the city. And now, we’ve proudly accepted and champion that we’re actually an amazing pizza town. Hell, in 2018 a New York-based international pizza consultant (yes, that is a real thing), coined Portland as The Best Pizza City in America.
Could such an accolade be true? With places like New Haven and New York, it’s arguable, but what Portland can really boast about pizza is the sheer variety, from more traditional Neapolitan spots like Ken’s Artisan Pizza to boundary-pushing, Northwestern-defining restaurants like Lovely’s Fifty Fifty. Here are our choices for the top places to grab a slice or pie in the City of Roses, as well as the best, safest ways to try these pies during the pandemic.
Life Of Pie
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, even while the pandemic continues. Is it wise to eat an entire margherita pizza by yourself? No. Will you anyway? Most likely.
How to get it: Both locations are closed for in-person dining, but diners can order pizzas for takeout by calling (503) 820-0083 or find delivery online.
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. These days, service has moved out of the busy interior and out onto the tent-strewn front patio, with all digital ordering.
How to get it: Reservations are available here and takeout orders are available here.
Lovely's Fifty Fifty
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.
How to get it: Orders for pickup are available Thursday to Saturday, 4 to 7:30pm. Orders can be placed same day by texting 971-300-7215. More details on ordering can be found here.
Portland has a few Chicago-style pizza spots, but The Star, which dropped in the summer of 2019, offers something a bit more upscale than the rest. 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.
How to get it: The Star is currently closed for in-person dining. Online ordering for takeout and delivery is available here.
Escape From New York Pizza
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.
How to get it: Open for takeout and delivery only. Visit the store for takeout. Delivery is offered via Postmates and GrubHub.
The line outside of Apizza Scholls has become as iconic as the pies themselves, especially as those waiting in line are spaced out six feet apart. 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. 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.
How to get it: Call 503-233-1286 after 3pm to place same day orders for takeout.
What started in Isaac Brock’s bar Poison’s Rainbow, Ranch Pizza has since left to focus on its own restaurants in Woodlawn and in Northwest. 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.
How to get it: Pickup orders for both locations are available here. Delivery options for both locations are available here.
Ken's Artisan Pizza
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. Sadly for the time it’s offering takeout only, so those looking for a Negroni with dinner will have to make one at home.
How to get it: Call (503) 517-9951 after noon for some day orders, with pickup at the window.
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.
How to get it: Pizza Jerk has a fun, retro website for delivery and pickup options for both locations.
Oven & Shaker
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. As its patio is still open for business, diners can still enjoy its drinks, or just grab a pizza for takeout.
How to get it: Takeout orders are available here. Delivery options are available via DoorDash.
Virtuous Pie 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, pick some up for your most carnivorous friend and watch them fall in love with it.
How to get it: Pickup orders are available here, and delivery options are available here, both via DoorDash.
East Glisan Pizza Lounge
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 wines, cocktail mixes, and bottled beers all to-go. 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.
How to get it: Call in orders after 4:30pm at (971) 279-4273. Online ordering is available here.
While the beers at this relatively nascent brewery are perfectly solid examples of Pacific Northwest ales, the Detroit-style pizza is a real draw. Co-owner George Johnson traveled to Detroit to learn how to make them from the original, the Detroit Style Pizza Company. These pan pizzas are the perfect thickness, with crispy bottoms and heaps of cheesy toppings with bright tomato sauce. Those, and the draught beers, are currently available for takeout and some limited outdoor seating.
How to get it: Call in pizza and beer orders at (971) 279-4273. Pizza orders are also available online here.