Sunday, September 21, 2008

One night in Portland is all it took

We have several posts dealing with our west coast trip in various stages of edit, but sometimes subjects arise that justify jumping the queue. Sometimes a revelation appears fully formed without the necessity for cogitation. Sometimes . . . sometimes you drive into Portland, Oregon and – on your first night in town - find yourself sitting at the bar at Apizza Scholls. And thus sometimes, you come face to face with what perfect looks like.

Bottom line up front:

This is one of the best two pizzas Pleen & I have ever had (the other being the totally different pie from Trattoria Dell’arte in New York). This is worth a plane flight to Portland . . . from Guam! We’re thinking about buying a condo on the corner of their block.


We heard about this joint in planning our trip to Portland, but, to be honest, they made the list for dinner tonight because of their proximity to the hotel and their lack of a dress code. After 900-some miles, we just wanted a bite and a good night’s sleep. We were in for significantly more than that.

What we got was the product of Brain Spangler’s maniacal dedication to the pizzaiolo’s craft: his hand-mixed and slow-fermented dough; his ingredients; his personal shaping and baking of each pie that leaves the kitchen. The results of all of this labor and attention was a fabulous classic Neapolitan pie. FAB-U-LOUS.

Now let’s not be coy. As good as the tangy tomato sauce, house made sausage, and Mama Lil’s goathorn peppers all are, this pizza is about the crust. You could serve that crust to me plain with a bottle of olive oil and I’d eat two. Spectacularly simple, anyone who’s searched for a great thin crust pizza (or tried to make their own!), knows how difficult it is to obtain that thin-but-robust, snappy-but-chewy, charred-but-sweet base layer.

The quite good wine list, great beer list, lovely salads, and OUTSTANDING service are almost not worth mentioning. You’re not going to really care. You’re going to focus on that snap of the first bite. That flood of flavors. That swimming of the senses as your taste buds try to come to grips with what they’re experiencing.

And then it’ll be all about when you can get back. Spangler puts his vacation plans on the restaurant’s website since no pizzas come out when he’s not around to cook them. Plan your visit carefully

Enough’s enough. There’s one more piece sitting on the counter across from my laptop. Gotta run.

Apizza Scholls
4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97215

Trattoria Dell’arte
900 7th Ave.
New York, NY 10106