Oh, That Portland Pizza

“Pizza is a lot like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.”  –Anonymous

Growing up in Southern California, I ate a lot of what I thought was pretty good pizza. It wasn’t until I married into a family of NY transplants that it was explained to me  how wrong I was.  Apparently, good pizza outside of the tri-state area simply doesn’t exist.  Every pizza conversation would end with a sigh, and one of my in-laws would quietly say: Not like Stango’s, referring to their favorite pizzeria in Glen Cove.

I have a feeling that one day, I’ll be letting out a huge sigh and lamenting: Not like Apizza Scholls.

Photo by Nick Zukin

Photo by Nick Zukin

Something I never expected when I moved here three years ago was how serious this town takes its pizza.

It’s a never-ending debate on Portland food blogs: Who has the best pizza in town? Apizza Scholls or Ken’s or some other. It can get very contentious at times. Check out the comment thread on this 2007 review of Ken’s Artisan Pizza on Portland Food and Drink.

In my opinion they are BOTH excellent.  The main difference for me is ambience.  Ken’s airy, sophisticated and warm buildout has the feel of dining in West L.A. or Marin County.  At Apizza Scholls, I definitely feel like I’m in Portland– a little dark, funky, the space a bit dysfunctional (enter here, wait over there, go out and come back in that door to be seated).

For me, the two are very different experiences. There is definitely room for both here in Portland.

Ken's   The Oregonian

Ken's The Oregonian

Apizza Scholls’s pies are huge and meant to be shared at long tables.  My favorite order:  Caesar, House Antipasti and a  NY Red ( New York White pie with red sauce).

Ken’s pies are 12″ which I could eat by myself. Delicious, too. My favorite order: Green Salad, Roasted Vegetable Plate, (both change seasonally) and a Fennel Sausage and Onions pie.

God. I’m making myself hungry!

On his last visit from the East Coast, I brought my brother-in-law to Apizza Scholls. It only took one bite for him to be happy. “It’s no Stango’s”  –he took another huge bite– “but it’s really close. Maybe if it had  a little more cheese” — wiping sauce from chin– ” it would be perfect.”

On his next visit, I’ll take him to Ken’s and let him be the judge.  I don’t care who wins, each makes me feel lucky to live here.

Ken’s Artisan Pizza
304 SE 28th Ave.
(corner of 28th & Pine)
Portland, OR
503.517.9951
Tues – Sun 5 – 10pm
Apizza Scholls
4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR
503.233.1286
Sunday 4-8pm
Mon – Sat 5 – 9:30pm


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