Seastar Bakery and Handsome Pizza, two wood-fired businesses that operated harmoniously under the same roof on Northeast Killingsworth, will close after service on Sunday, August 14. Seastar co-owners Annie Moss and Katia Bezerra-Clark and Handsome Pizza owner Will Fain announced the closure in a newsletter.
“Almost exactly seven years ago, we opened Handsome Pizza and Seastar Bakery, a quirky, collaborative restaurant project that tested our creativity and connected us with our neighborhood,” the joint statement reads. “It was a challenge beyond what we could have imagined, and it was lovely, too.”
Seastar Bakery was founded in 2015 by Tabor Bread alums Annie Moss and Katia Bezerra-Clark, opening with known-entity Handsome Pizza in the Northeast Killingsworth bakery space. Both Seastar and Handsome developed a reputation within Portland for their passion for Pacific Northwestern flours and Oregon-grown produce, which appeared in their whole grain pastries, bread, and pizzas. In the morning, Seastar filled the pastry case with baked goods like cocoa yogurt muffins and apricot cardamom tarts, while pizzas and calzones with seasonal ingredients made their way from the open kitchen to the dining room during lunch and dinner.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, as home bakers hopped on the quarantine baking fad, Seastar sold baking ingredients online (reportedly, 600 pounds in two days in April 2020), shared recipes ranging from easy to advanced, and even released a series of YouTube videos explaining the basics of baking.
“My memory of the last seven years is largely from the vantage point of our little neighborhood [corner] spot,” Moss says in the newsletter. “Friendship and community, celebration and grief are reflected in your routine meetups at our space, clusters of you working on projects together, weekly breakfast dates, chance encounters between familiar faces. Your stories were part of our restaurant.”
While Seastar was becoming an educator and advocate for locally milled flours, Handsome Pizza rose to stardom during the great Portland pizza renaissance. The pizzeria opened in 2012, when pizzaiolo Will Fain rebranded Pizza Depokos in North Portland. After three years operating out of a retro-fitted auto garage, Fain moved in with Seastar, bringing in a wood-fire oven that was custom built by Hot Rock Masonry. Handsome, which specializes in “New York-Neapolitan hybrid” pizzas made with sourdough crust, was mentioned in a contentious Bloomberg article last year that declared Portland the best pizza city in America.
“I’m grateful to the pizza community in Portland, who’ve been incredibly friendly and helpful, sharing experience and techniques, and also drinks, laughs, and empathy,” Fain writes. “When I began working at the garage, I could count the number of great pizzerias in Portland on one hand. Since then, Portland has been called out multiple times in national media as the best pizza city in the country. And while the best pizza city in the United States is New York (facts), Portland does have some of the best pizzerias in the country—and that number is growing every year.”
The closures were not attributed to a specific reason, but Eater Portland has reached out to Seastar Bakery for more information. Learn more about the closure via the Instagram post.