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Author Topic: Portland Best Pizza city..real or myth?  (Read 776 times)

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Offline Jersey Pie Boy

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Re: Portland Best Pizza city..real or myth?
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2021, 04:10:30 PM »
PNW.. Sure that would be good..let's PM..

Offline Jersey Pie Boy

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Re: Portland Best Pizza city..real or myth?
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2021, 04:22:36 PM »
WB..Definitely see a kinship there..so we're cousins :-D
I agree about NYC..where else could top it? And yes, NY vs NYC...apples and oranges.


On the other hand, with all the negative Portland press in the last year, if we can get in the news as Best Pizza City...I think we'll take it. The city is trying to rebuild its reputation..if pizza helps, great.


King Daddy gone? That's a shame. Yes we were in West Asheville.






Offline hotsawce

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Re: Portland Best Pizza city..real or myth?
« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2021, 12:20:42 AM »
The fact that it’s quite literally sourdough bread with toppings on it. I’d argue it’s not even “topped” like a pizza - everything is mixed in a bowl and piled on the (rather thick) sourdough base.

If you’re into that, I’m not knocking you but I just don’t see that as pizza. I’d rather have a great sourdough loaf toasted and used for a sandwich. And, personally, I find “sour” and “wheaty” to be undesirable flavor profiles in pizza.

Interesting...what defines the line between them?

Offline Jersey Pie Boy

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Re: Portland Best Pizza city..real or myth?
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2021, 01:06:21 AM »
Thanks Lou...I've got some exploring to do.




Offline quietdesperation

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  • marty, whatever happens, don't go to 2020!
Re: Portland Best Pizza city..real or myth?
« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2021, 04:44:23 PM »
JPB, you’re getting philosophical and I love it! I’m going to rant a bit and express some strong opinions, because you’ve activated a lot of my interests.

I’ve been lucky enough to try some of the well known Portland places over the last few years, and there’s no doubt about the enthusiasm and dedication in a lot of those kitchens. Lovely’s Fifty Fifty, though, is the only spot that actually drew a single tear from my eye. And yes, it was a heavy crust relative to other wood fired pizzas, but the overall “pizza” flavor on my visit there, the classical balance, was unmatched by any other Portland pizzeria I’ve experienced. I just ate less and saved a couple slices! (Don’t skip out on their salads and desserts, as well)

It’s that “pizza” flavor I missed at the other spots, who seemed to me to be serving Technically Advanced Bread with sauce and cheese. I’m assuming this is why Nathan Myrhvold, who is an absolute tool, likes the city’s pizza landscape so much. Because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If there are 4 kinds of people you should be automatically wary of when it comes to pizza criticism, they are:

a) Bread bakers
b) Native NYers
c) Billionaires who go on subsidized eating tours and then publish $600 coffee table picture books about it
d) Chefs

...because these are the kinds of people who are LEAST likely to have ever asked themselves, “Hey, do I really know what I’m talking about here? Or do I just assume I have an educated sense of taste  in this arena because I know about bread/because I’m from NY/because I’m rich and pizza is for poor people/because I know about complex food and pizza is a simple food?”

Nathan Myrhvold is in exactly the same category as Dave Portnoy (Barstool reviews, the “one bite” guy) for me. They have a certain style of pizza they like, and when they judge or grade pizza, it’s about how close it is to that style, NOT about how well the pizza is executed relative to what the pizza place is aiming for. To me that’s at best entertaining, but it is not a nuanced or educated perspective, and we in the pizza obsessed community should not take them seriously at all as industry kingmakers. Nathan Myrhvold exudes a dismissive contempt for simple pizza dough made by old school standards, and for that (as well as for a host of other reasons), nobody here should buy his big dumb book. Get his voice out of our conversations. He ain’t worth listening to.

It’s also indicative of how lazily one has thought about pizza to declare any city the “best” for pizza. Get real. That is an impossibility on both a practical and a philosophical level. Pizza in the 21st century is a food technology that reflects a conversation between a regional population and its eating habits. That’s why pizza in NJ looks largely the same as it has for 60 years, while Portland is exploding with trendy Detroit and sourdough offerings—because people in NJ don’t look at their pizza and say “We should change this,” while people in Portland say “But what’s next? Instagram showed me my pizza should look like this now...”

These are gross generalizations, but accurate.

On a practical level, there is not even such a thing as a “good” pizzeria—unless that pizzeria is consistently staffed by the same person(s) day in and day out, and that person(s) never waver in their attentiveness to every single pizza coming out of their oven. The same pizzeria can serve two wildly different products at lunch and dinner simply because the staff has changed over the course of the day, and the day crew runs the ovens hotter while the night guy uses less cheese and is distracted because he’s in a texting fight with his girlfriend and doesn’t care that night. The ownership has to care enough to enforce a standard, and the dining population has to be responsive to changes to the product in positive or negative ways so that standards are upheld in that conversation between food producers and food eaters. You can find a lot of Philly Cheesesteaks on menus in North Carolina, but how many people eating them have a clue what that sandwich is even supposed to be? How can they tell if it’s done well? Does it matter? Well, it will matter if you ask someone from Philly...

Point is, great pizza is made by great pizza cooks, which means someone has accumulated the experience and has signed up for the commitment to paying attention to the product, just like any other line of work. And there are a lot of those people all over this country, as well as a lot of people working in supposedly Good Pizzerias that don’t fit that description. So it makes zero sense to declare that a city is better than another for pizza unless you could snapshot the whole of their pizza offerings one night and compare it to snapshots of other cities. It’s an impossible and useless declaration, and I don’t get why people get wrapped up in establishing or perpetuating the turf wars. To me, it means you’ve already missed the point. It’s just like BBQ...you hole yourself up in your little kingdom of exclusivity and judgment, and guess what? You miss out on a lot of really good BBQ that doesn’t fit your fundamentalist idea of what it’s “supposed to be,” and the only person suffering there is YOU! It doesn’t have to be that way! We have a tendency to rank things according to absolute standards that we made up to begin with, when we should celebrate the spectrum of expressions that are out there to be enjoyed. It’s just like music that way, too.

I’m in Asheville, NC, which is not a town known for great pizza. But I can tell you, as a seasoned pizza eater, that I have had slices here that were almost indistinguishable from Walter’s pizza in Reno on one hand, and Scarr’s in Manhattan on the other. And neither of these slices came from places that the locals here ever mention when debating the Best Pizza in Asheville. They’re just pizzerias making a good product, and the public eating their pizza may or may not know that it’s unusually good.

So I’m excited you’re in Portland because there are a lot of people chasing the pizza dragon there, and that will absolutely turn out lots of great pizza. Despite what people say, there’s even great pizza up the road in Seattle, too. But I bet you’ll find that a lot of the spots you’ll visit still leave you with the feeling that you’d rather be making your own pizza, at home, because you’re actually quite clued in on what YOU like and you know your way around producing it...and there is no more bothersome truth in the world than the realization that you just paid someone else for something that let you down compared to what you could have done for yourself. I’m excited for you to have your own home kitchen up and running again, I miss seeing your pies!

What Portland is, is a great modern American food city overall. It’s scrappy and full of passion. Look beyond just the pizza, that’s my advice! You’re going to eat well there.

wine critic matt kramer said the same thing will a little more economy: ""A Connoisseur is one who can distinguish between what he or she likes, and what is good. The two are by no means always the same"
« Last Edit: July 21, 2021, 05:04:35 PM by quietdesperation »
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