Apr 1, 2010

The Pizza Revolution from New York to Portland

I don’t want to annoy you guys with my constant comparison of Portland things to New York things, but the fact of the matter is that I live in both Portland and New York, so I can’t help it.  I’ll admit that as a person who loves the outdoors, fresh produce, beautiful houses and nice people, I am biased towards my west coast home.  But a city as culturally diverse, economically competitive, and rife with egomaniacs and big spenders as New York is necessarily going to cultivate some high quality eateries.  I can’t afford most of them, but I did recently dine at two of Brooklyn’s new brick oven pizzerias – Motorino and Roberta’s.

They were both terrific.  The crusts at the two restaurants were similar – slightly blackened at the edges, where they were crisp and chewy, but a bit soggy and floppy in the middle (c’mon New York, you can do better!).  The generous use of fresh herb toppings at Motorino blew my mind, but the Portlandy vibe at Roberta’s felt like home.  And when I learned about the rooftop garden they started to provide fresh veg for the restaurant…I was moved enough to donate some cash to the farm fund.  It’s inspiring to encounter people in New York City who care just as much as Portlanders do about where their food comes from - to the point that they will take on the rather extreme challenge of starting an inner city farm.  Amazing!

So I wore my (invisible) New York Pizza goggles when I met up with a group of friends at Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Portland this evening.  I was thinking no way the toppings at this place are gonna be yummier than those at Motorino.  And they weren’t, but they were pretty incredible in their own right.  I mean, roasted oyster mushrooms with bra tenero cheese, fresh basil and chiles?!  So good!  But here’s the kicker:  the pizza crust at Ken’s totally blew New York out of the water.  It had the same lovely char at the edges, both crispy and chewy…but unlike the New York version, it maintained perfect crust consistency across its diameter.  No floppy slices!  I tried six different pies and am confident that I ate more than anyone else at the table.  For research purposes only, of course.  When I asked our waiter if I could keep a menu, he gave it with the caveat that changes are frequent.  I can see this research project won’t be completed for a while.   

To see more photos of Ken's Artisanal Pizza, go to:  frankie's photos of Ken's on facebook

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