Midwest Pizza Co.

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pizza food cart Portland

Midwest Pizza Co

Location: N Skidmore and Mississippi at Mississippi Marketplace
Hours: Monday/Thursday – 11:30-3; Friday/Saturday, 11:30-8; Sunday, 11:30-7

The Story: I grew up eating pizza from Round Table and Abby’s and in college, the ubiquitous Domino’s. It was only the last couple of decades I was introduced to what really good pizza is and Portland has it. Midwest Pizza Co is a new food cart serving up Chicago and Detroit style pizza.

pizza food cart Portland

Detroit Style Pizza

I remember the first time ordering a Chicago style pizza in Chicago. We were accosted with menus. Told to order quickly as it takes an hour. And then we waited. It was great, yet coming from the west coast where pizza was quick and thin, it was a different experience all together. Here in Portland, at the food carts, the vendors offer the pizza by the slice, so there isn’t the hour long wait. You can still get a whole pie if you want, just call ahead. At Midwest Pizza Co, their goal was to bring to Portland the flavors so you don’t have to endure the 100 degree weather and 100% humidity.

pizza food cart Portland

Chicago style dog

The Chicago Deep Dish starts with the crust. A flaky, buttery bed with slabs of Mozzarella and then the homemade sauce and toppings. The first slice I enjoyed on opening weekend was almost 2″ thick and so much cheese. The Detroit Style originated from baking the pie in spare parts trays giving the pizza a distinct rectangular shape. Caramelization occurs on the edges of the crust and when topped with Mozzarella and Monterey Jack and a few slices of pepperoni, you just can’t go wrong. Lastly, the Classic Chicago Dog. Made with Red Hot Chicago dogs, I enjoyed it “dragged through the garden.” The dog was topped with yellow mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish which glowed green, pickle spears, tomato wedges, sport peppers and celery salt. Each bit was fulfilling with veggies and pickled goodness and, well, hot dog happiness.

Midwest Pizza Co. is a great addition to the food cart scene here in Portland. We now have a number of wood fired pizza vendors and a Chicago style cart in downtown, so I’m glad they located in my neighborhood. Open Thursday-Monday for both lunch and dinner, if you’re in the neighborhood, you should check them out. Also, if you’re from the midwest, they offer other tasty regional treats including Sprecher Root Beer and Faygo. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (Full menu on MWPizza.com)

  • Chicago Dog – $4
  • Chicago Dog with all the fixin’s – $5.50
  • Chicago Deep Dish – slices are $5.50; whole pies are $15-20.
  • Detroit Style – $4-4.50/slice; whole pies are $10-15

Phone: 503 697 4992
Website: MWPizza.com
Twitter: @MidwestPizzaCo
Facebook: Midwest Pizza Company

Ash Wood Fired Pizza

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Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Tues, 11:30-3pm; Wed-Sat, 11:30-3 and 5-8pm; Sun, 11:30-3

The Story: A few years ago, a food truck the size of a shipping container debuted with a wood fired pizza oven. Huge! Yet, you don’t have to go big to create a quality product. Ash Wood Fired Pizza has a wood fired pizza oven inside their diminutive food truck and still have room for two people to craft the magic.

Ash Wood Fired Pizza opened last month in the Sellwood district at one of Portland’s oldest east side food cart pods. The owners, Ted and Alexandra Scharpnick traveled as far as B.C. to pick up the truck already outfitted with the yellow tiled wood fired pizza oven. The truck is eye catching-  smaller than the behemoths that roam the streets of many cities with a flat black finish and their welcoming logo. I see a lot of trucks and Ash Wood Fired is one of the best. Ted let me in on how they make their dough. Using grapes, water and flour, he created a starter. The yeast is all wild and the starter continues to grow to create a unique and changing flavor in the dough. Pretty cool. I’ve heard of using vodka in pasta, but not grapes in dough.

Margherita from Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Margherita from Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Ash Wood Fired has a great list of pizza options and offers up specials daily. On my visit, the ubiquitous and always amazing Margherita topped the menu. Other options included mushroom and garlic with pesto and maitake mushrooms or mustard greens and zucchini with a house made marinara. I’m a sucker for the Margherita, a clean, uncomplicated pizza with fresh lively flavors and at this time of the year, fresh basil. A single pizza is great for one person, so get two and share with a friend. I hadn’t planned on finishing it, but suddenly and surprisingly, I was devouring the fourth slice. Excellent crust.

The pod in Sellwood has five different vendors with Ash Wood Fired right on the corner. They have covered seating and a welcoming atmosphere. If you’re down on antique row, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: menu changes daily, so check their Facebook page

  • Margherita – house made marinara, fresh mozzarella and basil – $8
  • Peppers and Tomatoes – cilantro pesto, padron peppers, sungold tomatoes, ovoline Mozzarella
  • Asparagus and Fennel – house made marinara, Viridian Farms asparagus, shaved fennel, scallions, Ovoline Mozzarella

Phone: 503 941 0196
Website: Ashwoodfired.com
Facebook: Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Thick Deep Dish Pizza

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Thick Deep Dish Pizza

Thick Deep Dish Pizza

Location: SW 9th and Washington
Hours: 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday

The Story: I’m a child of pizza. I can’t tell you how pizza was so integral in the enjoyment of my childhood and teenage years. Portland had the thin crust pizza covered, but when I visited Chicago, I was introduced to the deep dish style. Thick, a new food cart on SW 9th and Washington, brings Chicago style pizza to the streets of our fine town.

Thick opened a few months ago and was selling out daily immediately. First time I visited, just after 1pm – totally sold out of slices and making a couple of suit-clad businessmen their own personal pie. Michael Cline is the man behind the pizza. A Chicagoan by birth, Michael saw Portland was lacking in his favorite cuisine, so decided to open the cart. He crafts everything from scratch including the house made Italian sausage, and pies are fresh made daily.

Italian Sausage Deep Dish from Thick

Italian Sausage Deep Dish from Thick

A Chicago deep dish pie is exactly that – deep dish with thick crust. A standard pie takes almost an hour to bake, so Michael makes a specific number of pies each day and when the slices sell out, that’s it. You can pre-order a pie though, so don’t fret.  I picked up a slice of handmade Italian sausage – Michael heated it up and handed me a small box which weighed a couple of pounds. While stalwarts may pick it up, I used a fork and knife to enjoy every last bite. Buttery crust acted well as the base layer topped first with Mozzarella then the sausage, and crushed tomatoes. The sausage was spot on and cheese in every bite made for a great lunch.

Thick Deep Dish Pizza is also open for breakfast, so if you’re coming into town early, feel free to stop by for local ham, melted onions, and Comte cheese encased in a classic buttery pastry crust. Sounds good to me. If you do want your own pie, be sure to call ahead and give Michael some time. All good things take time and patience. Drop on by for a thick slice of ‘za and let Michael know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Homemade Italian Sausage-  $5/slice
  • Spinach – $4/slice
  • Whole pies available

Phone: 630-697-6581
Facebook: Thick Pizza

Maiale Di Volo

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Maiale Di Volo

Maiale Di Volo

Location: Roaming & Uptown Market in Beaverton on weeekends
Hours: Varies, Uptown Market, Thurs-Sat, 12-8pm

The Story: I’ve seen a wood fired oven inside a food cart before, yet not on the back of a 1937 Dodge Truck. Maiale Di Volo, otherwise known as “The Flying Pig” is one of the newest pizza slingers to bring us the goods.

Maiale Di Volo

Maiale Di Volo

Brett Tuft took a vintage flatbed truck and over the back axle built a wood fired oven to cook his pies. He’s the chef, the owner and the Pizzaiolo at the truck. Over the summer, he had taken the truck to different events throughout the city, but on the weekends you could find him set up at Uptown Market on Scholl’s Ferry, a bottle shop and taproom. What’s better than wood fired pizza and a cold beer? Brett looks to source locally first when he can which includes the freshest organic produce, small farm artisanal cheeses, and high quality multi-grain organic flours from Bob’s Red Mill. You can taste it in the end product. After 20 years working in the food service industry including attending Le Cordon Blue WCI, Brett has fulfilled his lifelong journey to bring healthy, great tasting pizza to the people.

Margarita Pizza from Maiale Di Volo

Margarita Pizza from Maiale Di Volo

Wood fired pizza is really a treat. Using different hardwoods including red and white oak, cherry and alder, the scent from the wood infuses into the pizza ever so slightly. Brett has even sourced some Russian red oak used for packing from a local shipyard. Each pie only takes about 5 minutes to make – 2 minutes to create from scratch, then 2 minutes in the oven. For me, the ever so flavorful Margarita was the pizza of the day. Tomato sauce, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella make up one of the simplest yet amazing pizzas one can order. The crust was charred just right and paired with a local IPA, we dove in and didn’t look back. A 10″ pie is enough for 1 or great to share.

Maiale Di Volo is a passion. You can tell by the choice of truck Brett used to the quality of the pie he produces. Find him on the weekends at Uptown Market or during the week at different events. You can have him at your event also. Drop on by for a pie and let “The Flying Pig” know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

10″ Pies made fresh to order

  • Margarita – $9
  • Quatro Fromaggi – olive oil, garlic, oregano, fontina, provolone, parmesan, FCC mozzarella – $10
  • Spicy Hungarian Sausage – tomato sauce, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella – $11
  • Amore di Maiale – tomato sauce, guanciale, capicola, pancetta, prosciutto, mozzarella – $13
  • Caesar Salad – $5

Website: MaialedivoloPizza.com
Facebook
: Maiale Di Volo
Twitter: 
@Maialedivolo

Pizza Contadino

Lizzy Caston

Pizza1

Location: N Lombard and N Richmond – Next to the Fixin’ To bar and restaurant
Hours: Tues – Sat 2pm – 11pm, Sun 1pm – 8pm 

The Story: I love the St. Johns neighborhood. It sometimes feels like a completely different city in Portland – a little separate village, a small town almost. It feels like an island with Lombard and Willamette Blvd along with the majestic St Johns Bridge the only real main roads in and out to connect it with other neighborhoods in Portland. St Johns is still one of the most blue collar feeling neighborhoods, in my opinion, with industrial and dock workers from the nearby Columbia Blvd and Willamette River industrial areas mingling with long term residents, and a newer influx of young families, artists and others. Mixed in between the old man dive bars, and the quaint where your grandma might buy cookies Tulip Bakery, there’s some cool, funky newish businesses emerging, and sometimes they blur together.

Pizza Contadino is one such business and can seem a bit of an enigma at times. Is it a cart or is it a pizza restaurant? Where is it? Is it at the Crystal Gardens food cart pod on Lombard or did it move? No wait, now it’s a pop-up restaurant in the Fixin’ To bar, no wait, it’s a cart again. That’s the beauty of mobile vending, it’s FLEXIBLE and MOBILE, man. Keeps you on your toes and keeps things interesting if you ask me, and it’s nice a local bar that has it’s own kitchen was able to take on and support a cart as well. Bravo for the help your neighbor in need is a good deed indeed motto. Whew, location out of the way, if you can’t find Pizza Contadino, just call them – they’ll give you directions, no problem.

The pizza here is crave worthy. I’m not going to get into the whole thick crust vs. thin vs. NYC style vs. Neopolotin vs. New Haven Style vs whateverstyleyouthinkitis style discussion. Head on over to Serious Eats Slice for the cult of the pizza discussion. I will say this: The pizza at Pizza Contadino is GOOD. Here’s how Pizza Contadino describes their pizza (and business):

… We serve fresh handcrafted pizza with a sourdough crust that is made with a starter from the Alaskan gold rush.  It is baked in a 650 degree oven that creates a crisp exterior with a chewy interior.  Our menu is ever changing with mostly organic produce and ingredients that we source locally.

Some of those toppings include a perfectly cheesy cheese pie and a pepperoni for you pizza purists. Then things get interesting…between the roasted garlic, sausage, onions, you might find fresh Ricotta, Swiss Chard, Roasted Sliced Potatoes, Summer Squash. Meat options are available, but this pizza joint loves it’s veggies equally. Vegetarian pies are available, vegan pies – yeah, they can probably do those too. Just ask at Pizza Contadino and they are happy to accommodate if they can.

Pizza Contadino

photo from pizza contadino’s website

Slices or whole pies are always available. Cash only! And do call ahead, they will have your pizza hot n’ ready for you, and it’s a good way to confirm that Pizza Contadino is indeed right where they say they are and are open when they say they are and can help you fill your hungry pie hole.

Sample Menu:

  • Whole Pies $14 and up for a cheese, add on more depending on ingredients, Ingredients vary depending on what’s in season and chef’s inspirations.
  • Slices: $3 range

Phone: 503 935-4375 
Website: Pizza Contadino

Facebook: Pizza Contadino

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