Posts Tagged ‘Portland Pizza’
I’d always meant to get to Caro Amico with Mrs. Burgerdogboy for a romantic dinner; we thought it might be great because we had enjoyed their food via Delivered Dish (www.d-dish.com) and its position, on a hillside overlooking the river, might have made for some dreamy views.
We never got there as a couple, but I was spot on about my feelings with regards to all the rest, as evidence by this report from a recent visit.
We started with the Caesar with prawns, which was romaine lightly dressed with olive oil, rather than a typical Caesar dressing, and the prawns were warm with a hint of garlic flavor. The entire salad was generously dusted with Parmesan and finely chopped croutons.
For our mains, he went with Chicken Parmesan, one of his favorite meals, which was a large plump breast, very juicy, served with a colorful array of sautéed veggies, and penne with marinara. The breading on the chicken was light, not overbearing, and the breast may have been brined ahead of time for extra flavor.
She opted for the Canzano Calzone, stuffed with chicken, bacon, green peppers and pepperoncini. The crust was thin and crisp, and the marinara was some of the finest she had ever consumed. She would have liked a bowl of it all on its own, she said.
For dessert, we went with the dense and delicious cheesecake, topped with whipped crème and a raspberry sauce so yummy she wanted to lick the plate clean.
From now on, this will be their special ‘date spot’. Often overlooked by locals, even though it was Portland’s first Italian restaurant, it continues to please on every level.”
Few things you can count on consistently in Portland. One is, it’s likely to be dreary. Second? If the weatherman says its going to be nice, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be dreary. Third? Pietro’s Pizza coming back from the dead.
I’d previously stopped in their Milwaukie outpost, and wrote it up.
But today’s story is just to call attention how sometimes a mom-and-pop can grow into a sizable company, attract Fortune 500 investors, grow to dozens and dozens of outlets, and then devolve back into a mom-and-pop.
And that’s what happened to Pietro’s, started by locals, owned by Campbell’s Soup, BJ’s Pizza, corporate investors, and now back in the hands of a couple of local guys, doing just fine thank you.
There’s a great story in the Oregonian about this interesting ride.
OK, so I am “late to the party” in trying Domino’s “new recipe.” Reason being, there are no outlets near my house. There used to be one within spitting distance, but at least a couple of different operators couldn’t make a go off it, despite being within blocks of a large college. So it was just circumstance that enabled me to finally try their new recipe.
Sidebar: are you old enough to remember the Mary Tyler Moore show, and that she lived in those high rise apartments in Minneapolis? I used to live in that building, and the population alternated between starving students and “dicey denizens.” Dominos was the only pizza place that would deliver to that neighborhood, so I consumed more than a few back in my salad days.
Now, nearly 40 years later, to me, the “new recipe” ain’t that big a change.
I had read lots of reviews online when the product first changed, and one overwhelming comment I read was “too much garlic.” Not so on my pie, but maybe they toned it down.
My thin and crispy was neither, and while the “Meatzza” toppings (pepperoni, ham, savory Italian sausage and beef topped with an extra layer of cheese) were ample, none of them stood out for flavor or texture. Looking at their website now, it appear that the baker opted to create the “hand-tossed” crust instead of the thin and crispy I ordered. It was lunch time, so they had a special medium price of $10.99, which wasn’t so bad.
Would I order again? Doubtful, unless I was on the road and Domino’s was my only option. To me, it’s no better or worse than Pizza Hut or any other comparable chain. If I just wanted “hot pizza-like product”, I’d opt for price point and go with cheap-o Little Caesars, at $5 for pepp, or $8 for three meat, no waiting required.
I do have to say, the single employee at the store was great, tho.
Movie theater food? Blech, usually, and I have opined on that topic many times. But at the ultra new, spiffy, Cinetopia (now with 3 area locations) in Vancouver, WA, food rules, and you can order and have it delivered to your chair in a few of the multiplex screens.
As well as cocktails! Mrs. Burgerdogboy started off with a Lemon Drop, and went with the Cubano sandwich, Cinetopia’s version of a traditional “Cuban”, which was spot on with shaved ham, pork, pickle, grilled.
I was in a an “all-carb” mode, and got the pretzel ‘twists’, with cheese and mustard dipping sauces, as well as a slice of pepperoni pizza ($5.95, whole pies available as well).
Really liked the pretzel cheese sauce, reminiscent of fondue. The pizza? Way above average, and light years ahead of any movie theater pizza I have ever had. Fresh chewy crust, loads of flavorful pepperoni.
We had a Groupon for the movie, which included a drink coupon, so two movie tickets, one cocktail, 3 food orders put us at $43.
The name refers to the two elements that the restaurant hopes to capitalize on – oven, for wood fired “Neapolitan style” pizzas, and shaker, for interesting cocktails. This partnership between a local 4 time nominated James Beard candidate and a local renowned drinksmith held great promise when announced, but in my opinion, succeeds at the bar level, but fails in the kitchen.
Our party of four arrived on a late Saturday afternoon, and there were plenty of seats available inside; the smattering of tables on the sidewalk were all taken by Portlandians taking advantageous of an unseasonably hot and dry day.
A bottle of tepid water and four glasses were produced instantly, and our drink orders taken. Cocktails ranged from $9- $12, outrageous in my mind, but on the low price point side for ‘uptown’ mixed drinks these days. (Curmudgeon sidebar, when I started drinking, mixed drinks were 40 cents at the bar I popped my cocktail cherry at). I went with the Pimms “Rangoon’ a variation on a Pimms Cup, a refreshing cocktail I fell in love with living in England, basically Pimms #1 Cup, ginger ale, cucumber and lemon.
Oven and Shaker adds their own local, house twists to their cocktails, like manufacturing fresh mixes in-house. It’s a great drink. In my salad days, I could have slammed back a half-dozen, and not given it a thought. These days, I’m the designated driver, so I just had the one, and then switched to coffee, which they serve French press style at $4 a cup.
In addition to the pizzas, a lot of the food is fried, and we went with fried chickpeas for one appetizer, which were fun, as well as “Rosemary nuts’, a ramekin of herb flavored assorted nuts, and some garlic toast. No complaints on that score.
We ordered a variety of pizzas, which clock in at about 12″ and $14-$18 each. One is probably enough to share between two average appetites, but the four of us ordered one each, and had plenty to take home.
I won’t argue the fact that the restaurant uses quality ingredients for the pies; the ‘wild fennel sausage’ topping on the Margharita I ordered was some of the best flavored pork sausage I have had in Portland. The cheese is more than adequate (and you can substitute other cheeses for additional money), and the tomato sauce fresh and on the sweet side.
It’s the dough and the baking where the concept falls apart. The crust is chewy, doughy, and underbaked in my opinion, making slices very limp with a high moisture content.
Examination of the underside reveals very little charring, usually a signature of a well-baked wood-fired pie. A couple hours later in the evening, trying to make my way through left-overs, a true test of good pie in my world, the crust is best described as “soggy” and while sometimes with pizza this is indicative of the presence of fatty meat toppings, in the case of Oven and Shaker, to me, it represents a failure in the area of dough prep.
Four pizzas, three appetizers, 6 cocktails, 1 coffee, over $200.
Ouch. As Mrs Burgerdogboy commented walking around the Pearl after dinner, “OK, been there, done that, don’t have to return.”
Sad, but true.
It used to be my criteria for choosing a restaurant was to look for five words on the door: “Most Major Credit Cards Accepted.” These days, I am more apt to seek out restaurants that have been around for multiple decades, and DeNicola’s has been serving Portlandians for over 30 years. They must be doing something right.
We were out in the throes of a shopping excursion, and I suggested we pick up take-out sushi for Mrs. BDB, she never declines. So she suggests (since I will pass on the sushi) that I order a pizza, and after an extremely weak protest from me against that concept, I succumb and fall into investigating on Delivered Dish, a service I use frequently and highly recommend.
My usual choice for ‘upmarket’ pizza delivery would be Cara Amico, purported to be Portland’s oldest Italian restaurant, and my favorite local pie for a variety of reasons.
But I was feeling ‘adventurous’ and chose De Nicola’s, as I have meant to try it for a long time.
They say they serve “New York style” pizza, and that all their crusts are “naturally thick”, but “thin” is available upon request. So I went with a thin crust Meat Lovers (Italian sausage, pepperoni, and salami) and doubled up on the cheese. They call their 14″ pie a “small”, but that’s the standard size most pizzerias call “large”.
A choice of sauces is available, as well as a gluten free option, but I went traditional.
The pie was delivered promptly at the scheduled time, still hot in the box. The dough was on the thinnish size, kind of bread-like in taste, with a crispy rim. Quantity and quality of toppings was above adequate, and they use ‘real’ cheese as opposed to food service type “pizza topping.” There is a moderate amount of “hang”, and toppings nor cheese are firmly implanted on the crust not to end up in the box, always a plus for me!
Reading different reviews on line, you will find references to “old school’ type food, or “dirty Italian” (a phrase I haven’t heard before, not a slam, apparently).
Verdict? I liked the pie, and I will get it again, and look forward to a sit-down meal there in the future. Their extensive menu offers a wide variety of traditional pasta dishes and entrees.
I’m all about old-timey and garish. The outside of
Pietro’s fits the latter, the inside the former. Almost as old as I am, Pietro’s has been serving pizza to Oregonians for over 60 years, and is constantly at the top of most local favorite lists.
Having noticed its list ranking, not having tried it, and finding myself in the area, Friday, I stopped in for a to-go pie, and almost had second thoughts upon seeing the ultra-jammed parking lot at midday.
But figured that must be a good thing, as well. The place was chock-a-block with a wide variety of diners, construction workers, office colleagues, families with kids running amok in the large game room.
I opted for one of the specials, the 5 meat combo, with Canadian bcon, salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage and beef. I added sliced green olives for good measure, one of my personal favorite pizza toppings and a rarity in the Pacific NW. The price topped $25.
The counter clerk did not ask me whether I preferred thin or thick crust, so I didn’t know that was an option until I read the menu at home. I’m guessing mine was on the ‘thick’ side (by my definition) not one of my usual preferences, but this was a crust I really enjoyed. Crispy on the bottom and edges, a dusting of cornmeal, and chewy as you worked your way through the pie. OK, a further examination of the menu shows a surcharge for thick crust, so this was their variety of thin after all!
Ample toppings, great cheese and sauce, and Mrs. Burgerdogboy opined that she detected a hint of anchovy paste in the sauce. I couldn’t say, but it does have a unique flavor which I found very appealing.
The slices held up well, hot or cold, very little “hang’ and no toppings or cheese sliding off the slice when held up for examination. A good sign.
Pietro’s also has wings, a salad bar, grinders (aka heroes, subs, hoagies) and spaghetti or lasagna for a pasta choice.
Hand-crafted microbrews, domestic beers and house wine round off the beverage choices.
It’s a great pie. Looks like a fun place for the whole family. I shall return.
(Spoiler alert) John’s Incredible Pizza…. isn’t.
A massive buffet and games palace awaits brave parents who wish to spare the rod and spoil their children silly, as kids will love, love, love this.
Like a massive “Chuck E. Cheese”, but with a couple of rides thrown into the arcade mix (A “Tilt a Whirl” type thing and Bumper Cars), John’s first outpost out of its home California base is located in suburban Portland near Washington Square Mall.
Housed inside a former Circuit City, the “right side” of the hall is comprised of the buffet lines (pizza, hot pasta, salads and desert bars) with “themed” dining rooms open to the public.
To the “left” is the game hall and private party rooms, with a large public seating area where you can take your food and beverages (beer and wine available) to watch your kiddies play the games, run through massive amounts of money to purchase pre-loaded cards to play the games, and stare wantingly at a bevy of prizes and awards that will be just beyond their reach at a ticket redemption counter.
Mrs. Burgerdogboy and her visiting sis chose John’s as a destination to celebrate little sis’s bday, probably on the basis of “well it looks fun, and pizza is a way to win friends and influence people” (meaning me).
And they were right, on both counts, they had fun with the games, we came away with the ubiquitous souvenir from the foto booth, and Burgedogboy is always down for buffets, especially pizza-centric ones.
As for the pizza? Meh. While John’s offers a wide variety of topping choices on the buffet, they won’t win any prizes for quality or flavor, but then they aren’t out to win awards, just to fill bellies of all ages. Buffet purchase is required for entrance, and most hours of the day, it’ll cost you $10 a pop for adults, $6 for children.
There is an LTO lunch offer at a flat $5, and buffet purchase does include unlimited food and drinks (non-alcoholic). Getting stiff on beers will cost you $3.50 – $6.75 for a glass.
Bonus for you parents that want to really get your kids wound up, the drinks bar includes unlimited Icee’s.
One also has the option of a bundled ticket purchase including the buffet and game/ride tix – these run up to $35.
John’s passes the test for a safe and clean environment to take your ankle biters, but supervision would be required for toddler-sized ones. In other words, your children would have the most fun if accompanied by their parent’s debit cards to maximize game and ride play.
I imagine this place is chock-a-block packed on weekends, but on a Monday nite, it was curmudgeon friendly.
Parents (a set of two with two toddlers in tow) should plan on $50 + for an outing.
Mrs. Burgerdogboy came back from an outing with her pals at ScarletGirl.com, with a most unusual rave – no, not the latest in intimate playthings for couples, but rather a tip on a pizza her husband must try!
So Sunday nite she urged us out the door as the punctuation for a week we have both been suffering from the Portland winter crud sickness – either as a very loving jesture or in fact as an excuse to pick up some ice cream – the cure all for any known feminine malady.
We motored over to Uncle John’s Market in Burlingame, long the destination of Portland pizza whisperers, but heretofore unvisited by Portland’s leading “pizza expert.” (Moi).
So here’s the drill. There is a strictly take-out pizzeria inside this neighborhood market, offering slices or one-sized (x-large) pies to go, with your choice of toppings.
The mistress of Scarletgirl had recommended the pie as a thinner crust rendition of typical NY pizza, a two-handed slice, and she was spot on in both her description, and her understanding of what Burgerdogboy likes.
We grabbed a single slice of pepperoni for $2.75, and both enjoyed noshing on it on our way to ice cream land.
It’s thinner than typical NY pie, bordering on a cracker-thin, crispy slice, with nice cheese bubbles and a little char on the crust.
I grabbed a take-out menu, as it’s near to impossible to find details (or a phone number) for this neighborhood gem online.
For a quick slice in SW Portland, hit up Uncle John’s, or call ahead and order a large pie to go, or to enjoy al fresco (in your car) as we did!
So I mulled over my delivery options and opted for Tigard Pizza Kitchen. I have about five delivery options at the noon hour for my sector, so why Tigard? One of the very few places I have found in Portland that offers sliced green olives as a topping, and that’s one of my toppings of choice.
I used d-dish.com for delivery, which adds a wallop to the price of a pie. This medium, with delivery and tip, topped $30. That’s a chunk of change for pizza.
But to the meat of the matter. This pie suits my taste. It’s a little more doughy than I prefer, but acceptable. Real cheese, mild sauce, and hand pulled chunks of Italian sausage. Those joints that use “crumbles” I cross off my list.
We’ve been into TPK once before, and in addition to pizza, they have a full line of Middle Eastern foods, including some great hummus.