If Portlanders weren’t eating chicken this year, they were eating pizza. From thick slices of Detroit and Sicilian to wood-fired pies with Neapolitan vibes, Portland’s pizza game leveled up this year, with out-of-town talent moving in, home cooks hitting the big leagues, and household names dabbling in the dough game. But the wave of new pizzerias in Portland has been borderline daunting: At least 10 pizzerias have opened in Portland this year, with three more already slated for 2020.
Last year, buzz started to accumulate for Portland’s pizza scene: International pizza consultant Anthony Falco called Portland “the greatest pizza city in America,” while Food & Wine kept things a little more reserved and called it “the next great pizza city.” Most of these sources have name-dropped longstanding pizzerias like Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, and Apizza Scholls, but the artisan pizza movement in Portland extends beyond the old standbys. Newer pizza makers on the market have gotten particularly nerdy about fermentation styles, grains, and house-made cheeses. Pizza pop-ups appeared at Portland institutions, like Olympia Provisions and within Ava Gene’s new event space. Even Bay Area pizzerias and East Coast pizzaiolos have sought out Portland, seeing it as the up-and-coming spot for highly methodical pizza.
This guide works its way through most of the new pizzerias in Portland, from a small Hawthorne vegan cart to a sprawling Pearl restaurant. A few pre-existing pizzerias that expanded this year, like Otto and Atlas, didn’t make this list, just because they already had other locations for people to frequent. Those who know of another unmentioned 2019 pizzeria can sound off in the comments.
The Out of Towners
What it is: The first to open, Montesacro technically started tossing pies at the end of last year, but the Portland outpost of this San Francisco company didn’t really hit its stride until 2019. Specializing in the ancient pizza predecessor pinsa, Montesacro tops pillowy flatbreads with toppings like crispy guanciale and garum, a fermented fish condiment.
When it opened: December 2018
What makes it special: These pies use a combination of rice, soy, and wheat flour, which makes it feel lighter than other pizzas.
What to get: The Trullo pie, with tomato, lamb sausage, oyster mushroom, house tzatziki, and mint
Address: 1230 Northwest Hoyt Street
Read more: A Super Influential San Francisco Restaurant Just Opened a Location in Portland [EPDX]
What it is: Another Bay Area pizzeria, the Star was known for its deep-dish pies, using a thick, buttery cornmeal crust that served as a shell for tomato sauce, meats, and veggies. Opening just down the street from Montesacro, the Star created a nano-strip of San Francisco pizza expats
When it opened: May 2019
What makes it special: The Star is a sort of derivative of the San Francisco brand Little Star, which Eater San Francisco called an “essential San Francisco pizza restaurant.” The Star and Little Star went through a bit of a “business divorce,” however, which makes them different brands.
What to get: The All Star, which has bacon, meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, and provolone cheese
Address: 1309 Northwest Hoyt Street
Read more: A New Deep-Dish Pizzeria Is Opening in the Pearl District [EPDX]
The one to hit: Montesacro
The Thick Boys
What it is: A brewery with legit Detroit-style pizza, Assembly Brewing was an out-of-nowhere surprise in Foster-Powell. The pizzas are, indeed, straight out of Detroit: sauce-on-top squares with cheesy edges.
When it opened: March 2019
What makes it special: Pizzaiolo George Johnson actually trained under Shawn Randazzo, the award-winning chef of Detroit Style Pizza Company.
What to get: The plain-old pepperoni is great, but the restaurant’s meat lovers also comes with bits of pork roll.
Address: 6112 SE Foster Road
Read more: Foster-Powell Welcomes a Brand-New Brewery with Detroit-Style Pizza [EPDX]
What it is: Zapapizza is a pizzeria from Nick Zukin, the man behind guisado-centric Mexican spot Mi Mero Mole. His pizzeria uses a thick, round base for Mexican ingredient toppings, including avocado salsa, chorizo, and adobo
When it opened: September 2019
What makes it special: Zapapizza likely has the city’s most inventive pizzas this year, with pies topped with whole taquitos and chile rellenos
What to get: The restaurant’s white pie, with roasted green chiles and sour cream, benefits from its simplicity, as does the pepperoni.
Address: 503 W Burnside Street
Read more: Mi Mero Mole Owner’s Newest Restaurant Will Have Pizza Topped With Grasshoppers and Mole Sauce [EPDX]
What it is: Home cooks Jessica and Justin Donais got really into making pizza dough, eventually opening this tiny pizza counter in Brooklyn. Its pies are soft with slow-fermented crusts, cut into squares for on-the-go slices.
When it opened: November 2019
What makes it special: Beyond the attention to detail when it comes to dough, the cheese is also a little ritzy, with aged mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano DOP on its cheese pies.
What to get: The restaurant’s pepperoni is quite nice, but Pizza Doughnais also offers a Sicilian sfincione, a particularly hard-to-find pie in Portland.
Address: 3539 SE Milwaukie Avenue
Read more: Brooklyn’s New Sicilian Pizzeria Opens Today [EPDX]
The one to hit: This is a tough one, but probably Assembly Brewing (quickly followed by Pizza Doughnais)
The Thin Boys
What it is: Originally started in a food cart, Gracie’s opened in its own St. Johns restaurant space this year with hardcore bespoke pies. The pizzas use house-made, slow-fermented dough using Cairn Springs Mill flour from Washington, which come topped with cheese the owner makes himself.
When it opened: September 2019
What makes it special: Owner Craig Melillo, a Connecticut-raised pizza nerd, worked at one of Brooklyn’s legendary pizzerias before he moved to Portland, bringing his appreciation for bespoke pies to St. Johns.
What to get: Melillo’s best pies are his simplest — the margherita and the plain-old tomato
Address: 8737 N Lombard Street
Read more: Killer Pizza Cart Gracie’s Apizza Opens its Restaurant in St. Johns Thursday [EPDX]
What it is: A former Gracie’s employee decided to learn the art of dough-making before opening his own super-meticulous pizza cart. The catch: The whole dang place is vegan. Baby Blue, a pizza cart next to the buzzy Matt’s BBQ Tacos, makes char-dotted pies topped with house-made vegan cheeses, vegan proteins, and veggies.
When it opened: July 2019
What makes it special: Owner Odie O’Connor uses the same starter as Gracie’s, which makes it one of the best vegan crusts in the city.
What to get: Baby Blue’s rosemary pizza, with sliced garlic and house-made ricotta
Address: 3207 SE Hawthorne
Read more: A New Vegan Pizza Cart Is Coming to SE Hawthorne [EPDX]
What it is: In the former Tannery Bar space, Oly’s Jim and Nell Fisher are sticking to a more New York-adjacent schtick, with thin pies topped with classics like pepperoni and Italian sausage
When it opened: September 2019
What makes it special: The couple has East Coast ethos — the Fishers ran a pizzeria in Vermont for several years
What to get: The Wright Bros, with pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers, and onions
Address: 5425 E Burnside Street
Read more: Oly’s Pizza is coming to North Tabor’s former Tannery space [The Oregonian]
The one to hit: Gracie’s Apizza — unless you’re vegan.