A few years ago my husband and I went to Italy. The problem with going to Italy isn’t the language, it isn’t the cultural difference, it isn’t even the occasional train strike. The true problem is falling in love with the Bella Paese, and especially with its pizza.
The moment we arrived exhausted, jet lagged and empty-bellied to our first lodging house, the owner quickly dialed up the nearest pizzeria and had them deliver our first taste of Italian pizza to our room. We were hooked; we were pizza junkies satisfying our need nearly every day with those wonderful Italian pies; we were in desperate need of a fix when we returned home to Portland, Oregon.
Now, before we left we had a few pizza places we enjoyed, but none of them offered the wood-fired, thin-crusted, quality ingredient-topped circles of perfection we craved. We scoured the pizza listings and found two places that promised true Italian style pizza. After a little menu comparison, we opted for Ken’s Artisan Pizza.
Ken Forkish was once a business-type guy who got tired of the rat race and instead decided to spend his days surrounded with yeast and flour. He trained in Europe to perfect his bread- and pizza-making skills and that training has paid off in a yummy way.
Side note: Ken is also the author of Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, one of the most detailed books on baking artisan bread. You can gain ten pounds just reading this book!
Ken’s Artisan Pizza
With a thin and chewy crust, minimal toppings and a short period of time in a wood-fired oven, Ken’s pizza is very similar to pizza you’ll find in Italy, especially in southern Italy. The only difference is the price – where you can pick up a pizza for around $8 in Italy, you’ll be forking over around $15 for a pizza at Ken’s. Still, I suppose a trip to Ken’s is far cheaper than a plane ticket to Naples.
Pizzas range from the sweet and simple magherita (mozarella and basil) to meaty treats like prosciutto to spicy options such as the chile-laced arrabiatta. All ingredients as sourced as locally as possible and include artisan sausage and products from organic growers. And no, they do not have pizza horrors like taco pizza or Thai chicken pizza.
Ken’s is located at 304 Southeast 28th Avenue in Portland, Oregon. For another sample of Ken’s wonders (don’t even get me started on the croissants!), stop by his bakery at 338 Northwest 21st Avenue in Portland.
Got a favorite pizza place? Feel free to share (and to send samples)!