Pizza Contadino

Lizzy Caston

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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

Southern Belles

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Southern Belles

Southern Belles

Location: 8218 North Lombard Street at The Fixin’ To
Hours: Wed-Fri, 12-9pm; Sat, 3pm-1am

The Story:

St. Johns has had a tumultuous relationship with food carts over the last few years. An attempt at a pod failed a couple of years ago and many of those vendors moved on. A strident few stuck around and two have even become a restaurants. Now, a new model – pair the carts with a bar. The Fixin’ To at the entrance of downtown St. Johns now hosts two vendors – Southern Belles and Pizza Contadino.

Southern Belles is the newest cart in North Portland, having opened in late 2012. With a focus on comfort food, they are quickly becoming famous for their Brunswick stew and Cheeseburg Chowda. Known for Soups, Salads ‘n Such, the southern-style inspired cart is the work Nancy Petersen and Darlotte Justice, a couple of North Carolinians. But they have traveled and lived elsewhere, so their menu may not be completely southern every day.

The day I visited, I picked up a half an egg salad sandwich and beef barley soup – a hearty lunch for a cold day. It reminded me of a plate I would have a grandma’s house in Minnesota. I just needed a cup of hot cocoa to round out the memory. The egg salad on white fit well with the hot beef soup full of vegetables and barley. A great pairing for a hungry boy.

Southern Belles is now open Tuesday-Saturday and you can bring your food into The Fixin’ To and enjoy a beer or cocktail while you eat. Head on up to St. Johns for a visit, enjoy some of what Darlotte and Nancy have to offer and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Soups-  Beef Barley, Chicken Noodle, While Chili – 8oz, $3; 16oz, $5
  • Sandwiches – Egg Salad, Turkey Cranberry – 1/2 sand with soup – $5; full sandwich – $5
  • Hot Baked Potato with fixin’s – $4

Phone: 971 253 0939
Facebook: Southern Belles

Velas Cart

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Velas Cart

Velas Cart

Location: N Lombard and Burr
Hours: Daily, 11am-7pm

This guest post was written by Scott Batchelar, a regular at many of the carts throughout the city. Thank you Scott.

The Story:

“Welcome to Velas, how are you tonight?” says Mario Vela the owner and chef of the Velas food cart as I walk up to this small food cart pod which includes a Kruger’s Farm Market and Captured by Porches Microbrewery.

In Portland we have close to fifty Mexican Food Carts and for me the trick is finding the gems at each cart. I looked over the extensive menu of Mexican and American foods at Velas and asked Mario for some advice on what his favorite dishes are. He immediately recommended his chicken mole even though I am still perusing the menu to see what else looks promising. My eyes settle on the empanadas and after asking some questions I order both a beef empanada and the chicken mole.

Chicken Mole from Velas Cart

I sit down in the Captured by Porches Bus for a tasty and filling meal. I especially liked the tenderness of the chicken and authentic mole sauce that Mario makes fresh daily as well as the delicious topping of pico de gallo. Add to that the cheese in small cubes he placed on the moist and delicious beef empanada as a bonus.

Velas is open daily from 11am to 7pm. They have an extensive menu of Mexican and American foods including tacos, burritos, tortas, sopes, empanadas, memelas, garnacas, tamales as well as numerous Mexican and American drinks and burgers. With the Captured by Porches bus, you can sit inside out of the rain and even enjoy a cold microbrew. Velas is a great addition to this small but intimate pod. If you drop in let them know Food Carts Portland and Scott Batchelar, the unofficial Food cart King, sent you.

Sample Menu:

PLATES: (with rice & beans)

  • Pollo En Mole (chicken mole) $6.00

BURGERS: (With fries or potato salad) $6.00

  • Velas (jalapenos, tomatoes, onion, pepperjack cheese)
  • BBQ (grilled onions, bbq sauce, cheddar cheese)
  • Garlic Mushroom (mushrooms, swiss cheese)
  • Chili (green chile, onions, provolone cheese)
  • Cajun Chicken Sandwich (marinated chicken, pepperjack & chipotle mayo on foccacia bread

MEALS:

  • Tacos (pastor, steak, chorizo, chicken, lengua) $1.50
  • Burritos (pastor, steak, chorizo, chicken, lengua) $5.00
  • Tortas ((pastor, steak, chorizo, chicken, lengua) $5.00
  • Sopes (chicken or beef) $2.50
  • Empanadas (chicken, beef, chicharron) $2.50
  • Memelas (beans, salsa, sour cream, queso fresca) $2.00
  • Garnachas (red sauce, potatoes, onion, beef) $2.00
  • Tamales (Veracruz Style – Chicken) $1.95

DRINKS

  • Mexican – Jarritos, Horchata, Sidral, Jamaica, Sangria, Tamarindo, Jumex $1.50
  • Domestic – Pepsi, Fanta, Diet Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Sprite, Root Beer, Mt Dew, Coke $1.00

Hours: Daily, 11am-7pm
Phone: 503 754 2904

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