Portland Pizza Week 2018 (April 16-21)

It’s been a while since the last time I posted, and this particular post is way overdue. For that, I apologize. Fortunately, I’m back – finally! A combination of writer’s block and the start of the NBA playoffs are MOSTLY to blame for the inactivity. I must also admit that the lazy bug bit me, too. Though I have not been to a new food cart recently, I did get to check out Portland Pizza Week back in April (April 16th-21st). I was hoping to have this published about a month ago but, again – NBA playoffs. What can I say? Now, the NBA season is over, and there is a bit of a lull between now and the start of the NFL season, so I can no longer use sports as an excuse.

Portland Pizza Week is an annual event in Portland when dozens of local pizzerias create unique slices offered ONLY for this one week. At just $2 per slice, it’s a great experience; especially if you can get around town and try multiple slices throughout the week. I wouldn’t try doing what I did. I packed in as much pizza as I could on one day. In fact, I ate all but two slices on the same day. I was busy during most of the week, and it wasn’t worth fighting the traffic to get into Portland during the afternoon rush hour. Anyone who lives here knows what I’m talking about.

When I first read the Portland Mercury article that listed the 34 slices to be offered, I was a bit overwhelmed. Immediately, I wanted to try about 27 of them. Unfortunately, there was no way I could eat that many slices of pizza in one day –  not even on my best of best days. That and $50+ on pizza in one week would have been a little excessive, right? I had to narrow the list to a few must-haves. Ultimately, I was able to grab eight slices and decided to rank them from eight to one to build up the suspense.

Let’s get started!

Number 8

“The Chimichurri Verde,” from Pizzicato

Garlic and olive oil base, mozzarella, Painted Hills skirt steak, caramelized onions, roasted purple potatoes, and a house-made chimichurri

Typically, I don’t like giving negative, or less-than-positive feedback but, I also don’t want to be less than real with you. The Chimichurri Verde was one of the first slices that caught my eye. It was an immediate must-have but, turned out to be my least favorite. Honestly, I didn’t think it was good, at all, and I don’t quite understand why. I mean, it sounded amazing but, for whatever reason, was pretty bland, and the toppings didn’t seem to go together well.

 

Number 7

“Snake River Party Boi,” from Sizzle Pie

Chipotle red sauce, red onion pico, vegan pastor, Aji Amarillo sauce, and cilantro

This one was another of immediate must-haves because I liked the name, and it sounded pretty intriguing. While I did like it, overall, it faced some tough competition, which is why it finds itself so far back on the list. Now, I must add that, although I liked this slice, I could never lead a vegan lifestyle. Never. Nothing against vegans but, I could never go without eating real meat (or eggs, dairy products, honey). I’m just not a big fan of meat substitutes. I also can’t stand artificial crab meat and veggie burgers, for example. I need the real thing. Aside from the vegan pastor, I did like the overall flavor of this pizza.

 

Number 6

“Margherita Explosion,” from DeNicola’s Restaurant

A Margherita pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, Mama Lil’s Original Peppers, and finished off with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.

Margherita pizza is good but, admittedly, not one of my favorites. I prefer to have meat on my pizza. That said, I really enjoyed DeNicola’s “Margherita Explosion” because it had a sweet heat to it that I really enjoyed. The drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette was a nice touch, as well. Other than that, it was the typical Margherita pizza flavors that you would expect.

 

Number 5

“The Big Apple,” from Straight From New York Pizza

Applesauce base, topped with slices of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples, and brown sugar and cinnamon granola crumble topping. According to the description in the Portland Mercury article, it was also supposed to feature a caramel and streusel icing drizzle, but as you can see in the picture, my slice did not have it. I didn’t realize it was missing until I began writing this post, so they either forgot, or the article was incorrect.

For this slice, I almost feel bad for putting it all the way back in 5th place. This was a damn good slice! The only reason it fell back this far is that it was a dessert more than anything. It tasted like apple pie on pizza dough. There really is no comparing it to any of the other slices. So yummy, though! I even bought an additional slice to take home.

 

Number 4

“Chèvre, ‘Shrooms, and Whips,” from HOTLIPS Pizza-PSU

Olive oil base, topped with Portland Creamery chèvre, mushrooms, garlic whips, and red peppers.

This was another must-have. In fact, I think it was probably the first one that caught my eye. I LOVE chèvre (goat cheese)! If it has goat cheese on it, chances are, I will want to try it – no matter what it is. This slice was awesome! A real delight for any goat cheese or mushroom lover. To my surprise, though, it wasn’t my favorite slice of the week.

 

Number 3

“Sweater Weather,” from The 1905

Caramelized leek and garlic cream sauce, roasted butternut squash, aged mozzarella, grated Pecorino Romano, sauteed mushrooms, brown sugar, red onions, chili oil, fresh sage, and tempura-battered butternut squash, and topped with a few edible flower petals – just because, I suppose?

I know what you’re probably thinking. What in the hell were they smoking when they came up with this idea? It was, by far, the most unique (and intriguing) slice of the day; maybe THE most unique Pizza Week slice in general. The flavors reminded me much more of fall than spring, but it didn’t matter – it was delicious! I would eat it any time of the year, for that matter.

As an aside, The 1905 is a pretty cool spot. A jazz club and a pizzeria all packed into one. It had a great atmosphere (though it was a little more lively than I typically prefer) and they have a live jazz band. I’m not really a jazz music fan but, it was still fun, and I will likely return at some point in the future. When I do, it will be for the pizza more than for the music, of course. They have another pizza on their menu that I really want to try – the Oregon Truffle.

 

Number 2

“The Zia,” from Hammy’s Pizza

New Mexico-style calabacitas (zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, onions, garlic, and New Mexico green chile), and a blend of mozzarella and Mexican cheeses.

My runner-up selection ran a close second to my overall favorite. Truthfully, the thick, Sicilian-style crust, itself, nearly pushed it into first place.  In hindsight, I should have taken a better picture of this slice to show just how thick the crust was. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about it until the slice was eaten, and I was already on my way to the next spot. This was another slice that was so unique because of the toppings (much like the one above). Never in a million years would I have thought to put zucchini and squash on a pizza, but man, it was a great combination. The overall flavor was exactly what I would assume a New Mexican or Tex-Mex pizza would taste like. I loved how the green chile gave the slice a little heat and slightly smoky flavor.

 

Number 1

“The Carpizzio Slice,” from Hogan’s Goat

Tomato mustard base, mozzarella, parmesan, Pecorino cheese, a thin slice of beef, and topped with green onion, chives, and fresh horseradish.

Finally, the winner! This slice was just…phenomenal. What initially caught my eye was the horseradish. It wasn’t until I arrived at Hogan’s Goat and received my order that I realized it was not just horseradish – it was FRESH-GRATED horseradish. I was only accustomed to the type of horseradish used in some cocktail sauces, and the horseradish ‘paste’ that you buy in a jar (or get in a packet from Arby’s). Fresh horseradish officially blew my mind. It still had that intense/pungent flavor but, not QUITE as strong – if that makes any sense. It didn’t tickle your sinuses but, it had that unmistakable horseradish flavor.  I don’t know; maybe I’m just weird but, I think it had a refreshing taste. Either way, it was the ingredient that put this slice of pizza over the top. Now, if you are not a fan of horseradish, to begin with, then you probably would not have liked it. If that’s you, I’d still recommend trying freshly-grated horseradish sometime if you can; maybe it would change your mind about it. I’m going on and on about the horseradish but, the entire slice was awesome, too, by the way. All of the toppings on this slice went together very well, and I REALLY wish the Carpizzio Slice had a permanent spot on the Hogan’s Goat menu. Maybe it’s a good thing that it doesn’t – I’d probably be there on a weekly basis.

That brings my recap of Portland Pizza Week to a close. If you’ve never participated before, I highly recommend it. Whether you get to try a few places throughout the week (suggested), or have to pack in whatever you can on one day, it’s a lot of fun. Not only do you get to try some one-of-a-kind slices of pizza but, you might also find your new favorite local pizza joint. Be sure to check the Portland Mercury to help you plan out your must-have spots in 2019. They do a good job of specifying which quadrant (of Portland) each pizzeria is located in.

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