Chef Anthony Cafiero opened his first restaurant, the Spanish-Modernist chef’s counter Ración, almost a decade ago, in 2013. When it closed in 2015, he spent time as a chef in a variety of places — he helped open the speakeasy Bible Club as its chef, worked with restaurateur Micah Camden to develop his chickpea ice cream, was the sous chef at Pizzeria sul Lago, developed the Dungeons & Dragons-themed dinner pop-up Orcs Orcs Orcs, and was the chef and manager for Camden’s Sweetheart Pizza for the last year. Now, he plans on opening his second restaurant on his own. But rather than opting for a seated affair with tapas and cocktails, Cafiero is opening a pizzeria in the Brooklyn neighborhood, in the midst of Portland’s pizza renaissance. Meta Pizza will open on Tuesday, October 26, slinging 14-inch pizzas in Cafiero’s own style.
Meta Pizza will open in the space previously home to Pizza Doughnais on SE Milwaukie Avenue. Takeout will be the main focus and the restaurant will have no dining room, only a small wine shop serving Italian and Spanish wines, with a counter for takeout. And, despite its name paying homage to Meta Di Sorrento, where his family is originally from, Cafiero’s pizza won’t be specifically Italian in style. Served as 14-inch pies or as square slices from a larger pizza, the pies at Meta will be more akin to New York style, specifically so it can travel well. “Neapolitan is great on a piazza in Italy, not in the box and steaming,” says Cafiero. The yeasted sourdough base will be made daily by Fleur de Lis bakery, with whom Cafiero developed the recipe.
The shop will open with eight pizzas, including a few standards like pepperoni, margherita, plain cheese, and sausage and peppers. Cafiero says that most of them will have some minor tweak or touch to define it as their own: for instance, a five-cheese pizza finished with green onions and poppy seeds, and the sausage and pepper topped with an umami powder made in-house with fennel, garlic, and porcini. One pie he’s especially excited about is the spicy lamb, a white sauce pie with lamb sausage made in-house, as well as marinated tomatoes, feta, and green olives, topped with chili crisp oil.
Along with the eight pizzas, Meta Pizza will also offer custom pies, and will include vegan and gluten-free options (though Cafiero warns that, with only four ovens, he can’t designate one as gluten-free). The starting menu will also include two salads — a Caesar and seasonal greens salad — and bread sticks, which come with marina and ranch dressing, also made in-house. Down the line, Cafiero wants to get some desserts, likely cookies and brownies.
Also down the line: the possibility of delivery. For now, Cafiero wants Meta to serve as the neighborhood pizza spot and wine shop. He says that he and his team want to feel it out, get the pizzas right, and then figure out from there what people would want next.
Meta will open in the midst of a growing pizzeria boom in Portland: Salem-area pop-up Precious Pizza recently opened a cart in the Barley Pod, Pizza Thief is slinging similar sourdough New Yorks in Slabtown, the folks behind Crown Paella recently opened their pizzeria on West Burnside, and the currently-on-hiatus Jerry’s made many Portland pizza fans fall in love with Chicago tavern-style. While there’s never been a better time to eat pizza in Portland, it also means the market is particularly crowded; it takes much more to stand out in the city’s scene. Though, if Cafiero’s reputation is any indication, Meta will likely make waves beyond the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Meta Pizza will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 3 to 8 p.m. at 3541 SE Milwaukie Avenue.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly noted how many ovens are in the space. The building has four ovens, not two.