Among many, there is much respect for Anthony Bourdain. And why not? He speaks his mind and is willing to try almost anything. In fact, I have his book on my coffee table for all to see. So when No Reservations hit Portland, in particular Apizza Scholls, I knew that it would be a must try. However, for one reason or another, Viv and I did not make it out there last summer. This time around, I wasn't going to let it slip through my fingers. Even though we had kids in tow and another possible lineup staring us in the face, we were determined. Almost every place we've hit so far has resulted in a wait of some sort. And I hate lineups! To make sure we didn't do the "wait for the first seating to finish" scenario from happening again (at Screen Door and Saburo's), we arrived at Apizza Scholls at 4:50pm. We found ourselves to be 3rd in line and thus; easily got a table. In fact, everyone in line got a table and by the time we left, there was no lineup at all. Must've been a quiet night?
So why the lineup? Sure, the exposure of being on TV certainly helps. Also, the fact that they only have a limited amount of dough per night triggers the supply and demand phenomena. If there is only so much to go around, it is human nature to get in on the action before it is all gone. Being that we were only 2 people with 2 kids who don't eat a whole lot, we could only order one pizza. We did start with a Caesar Salad and anchovies. Unlike regular Caesars, the romaine was not cut up into small pieces. Rather, they were left whole and tossed with just enough dressing (fresh raw egg yolk to be exact) with plenty of shaved Parm and 4 anchovies on top. The combination of crisp hearts of romaine, a flavourful dressing, salty anchovies and Parm made for a very good salad. Viv thought it may have needed a bit more acidity in the form of lemon juice. I agree; but that did not make or break the salad, it was good anyways.
As for the pizza, we had 1/2 Pig & Pineapple and 1/2 New York White Pie (with sauce). All their pizzas come only in 18" and are NY-style thin crust. What sets they pies apart is the extremely hot oven that literally burns the crust until it blisters. If you haven't had this type of pizza before, you are missing out. The crisp, chewy, blistered crust is like no other. Very easy to eat while being unique in texture and taste. By merely picking it up, you'll get a limp center. You must do the NYC fold. The New York White Pie, consisting of mozzarella (whole milk & fresh), pecorino romano, ricotta, fresh garlic, herbs, black pepper, sea salt and EVOO, was really good. Simple; yet ultimately flavourful and delicious, it allowed the crust to be the star. The Pig & Pineapple was good too (lots of tender ham); but honestly, more toppings leads to crust degradation (in terms of moisture). We really shouldn't have gotten sauce with the NY White; however, it was just in case the kiddies wanted some of it. Simple and few toppings make for a better pizza in this case.
Usually, very few restaurants live up to the hype.
Unrealistic expectations combined with a lineup usually tempers any preconceived enthusiasm. However in this case, I thought the pizza, particularly the crust, to be one of the best I've had. Toppings were good quality and well- balance. Furthermore, the prices are quite reasonable for what you get. No disappointment here. In fact, I ate all of the crust, including the edge. That really says it all since I usually stop eating where there is no more sauce or toppings.
- If you like thin crust, this is damn good
- They specialize in one thing and do it right
- Usually a lineup and when they run out of dough, that's it
- If you don't like thin crust or burnt anything