The ultimate fall-back dinner and the quintessential crowd-pleaser, pizza goes with everything. It’s the perfect meal for your kid’s birthday party, watching the game with friends and ordering in for movie night. Oregon has steadily grown a reputation for serving up mouthwatering pies — and it doesn’t hurt that pizza pairs well with an award-winning craft beer for a night out.
“No one ever says, ‘No, don’t bring pizza,’” says Scott McFarland, owner of American Dream Pizza in Corvallis. “It’s so delicious. It’s also so varied. You can do so many things with it. I never get tired of pizza.”
That’s saying a lot since McFarland has worked in the pizza business for his entire adult life. When it comes to quality pie, McFarland says that it really boils down to one thing. “It’s corny but I’ve been saying it since I was 22: You have to have love, you have to have passion.” That passion shows itself through an attention to detail that encompasses all of the different facets of pizza: dough that makes the perfect crust, sauce with the ideal blend of spices, soft and melty cheese, and fresh toppings. Each component needs to be working in harmony to achieve an appetizing taste.
McFarland says you can really tell when a pizzeria has hit the mark by ordering a slice of plain cheese pizza. “I’ll do that so I can taste everything,” he says. “That first bite, you can tell if it’s a good pizza. ‘Oh my god, these guys got it. Everything’s working here.’” Luckily, that exclamation can be made in every corner of the state. Dine in, take out or get inspired and whip up your own at home. Here is a roundup of some of the best places to get a quality slice across Oregon.
While other cities in America have garnered namesake pizza styles, Portland has quietly earned a reputation for making some of the country’s best pizza. One of the pizzerias that helped the city gain this honor is Apizza Scholls, a Southeast Hawthorne restaurant whose creations are often compared to New Haven-style pies. Another favorite is Amalfi’s Restaurant on Northeast Fremont Street, which claims to be one of the first restaurants to serve pizza in Portland and has been wowing guests with their family dough and sauce recipe for more than 60 years. The blistered crust, hand-stretched mozzarella and Italian tomatoes make Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Southeast Portland renowned for making some of the city’s best pies. Operating out of a century-old building in downtown Oregon City, Mi Famiglia is run by a mother-son team that focuses on creating pizza with quality ingredients and offering them for a fair price.
Pizza-and-beer night is an easy choice on Oregon’s South Coast with a stop at Bandon Brewing Company, which has 14 house-brewed beers on tap and a menu of wood-stone pies featuring local ingredients. In Yachats you can enjoy a tasty pizza with your pup at the dog-friendly patio at the Drift Inn & Cafe. Their extensive menu includes pizzas with thin, hand-tossed crust that are fired in a 500-degree oven. Often touted as the best pizza on Oregon’s North Coast, Angelina’s Pizzeria and Cafe in Seaside serves up New York-style pizzas using made-from-scratch dough and fresh ingredients, along with calzones, stromboli, salads and panini sandwiches made with homemade focaccia bread.
Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge
In Hood River, Solstice Cafe & Bar offers pizzas that prominently feature locally grown and gathered ingredients such as cherries, pears and mushrooms. After a day of hiking, biking or snow sports on Mt. Hood, stop at Al Forno Ferruzza in Rhododendron to refuel. This third-generation pizzeria fires up Sicilian thin-crust pizzas as well as pastas, calzones and stromboli. Spooky’s Pizza Restaurant in The Dalles has been a hometown favorite gathering place for decades, offering a mix of traditional combinations and original pizzas — one of which is topped with hot peppers and honey.
While beer is often the classic pairing with pizza, there’s something magical in the way that Oregon meets Italy with pizza and wine. At Nick’s Italian Cafe, chefs have used recipes passed down through three generations to bring authentic Italian food to McMinnville. All of their pies can be paired with a well-curated wine list showcasing some of Oregon’s best wineries. Transforming a large red barn into a pizzeria, Coburg Pizza Company is reimagining what they consider to be “the best food in the world,” an effort that has them consistently voted the region’s best pizza (try the Jerusalem pizza with falafel).
In Klamath Falls, one of the best places to grab a slice is locally owned Rodeos Pizza & Saladeria. To achieve excellent flavor and texture, the pizzeria uses house-made dough that is cold-proofed for two days, sauce made from small batches of whole-peeled tomatoes and whole-milk mozzarella free from anti-caking additives. Earning its place as a permanent fixture and must-try restaurant in Southern Oregon, Kaleidoscope Pizzeria & Pub in Medford whips up gourmet pizzas from quality ingredients. Its name reflects the restaurant’s mentality of constantly changing, both in its extensive pizza menu and its display of custom artwork. When you need a bite after a day of visiting Southern Oregon’s wine country, you’ll be happy to stumble upon Bella Union Restaurant & Saloon in Jacksonville, with pizzas that are described as incomparable, a relaxed atmosphere and a list of decadent desserts.
In Redmond pizza enthusiasts can enjoy a tasty pie while sitting inside a retrofitted church that dates back to 1912. The menu at Grace and Hammer includes inventive toppings such as brisket, Italian smoked and cured pork called speck, and Korean-style barbecue sauce. Bringing the Italian tradition to Central Oregon, Pisano’s Woodfired Pizza in Bend uses fresh local ingredients in their dough, sauce and cheese to create a selection of artisan pies. Garnering multiple awards for its scrumptious hand-tossed pizzas, Pizza Mondo has been a landmark in Bend for more than 20 years.
Cooking their pizzas to bubbly perfection, The Gold Room uses meats from local ranches and vegetables from regional farms on the ground floor of a historic hotel in downtown Joseph. Glory Days Pizza in Burns adds to the flavorful pizza scene in Eastern Oregon, and also has arcades and large tables that are perfect for parties, team celebrations and family gatherings. Great Pacific in Pendleton operates out of a Masonic lodge that dates back to 1887, and serves up hand-tossed Naples-style pizzas with a divine sauce that has a secret blend of spices.
Saturday Pizza Dough
- 1-1/2 cups water (350 grams)
- 2-3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt (15 grams)
- 1/3 of 1/4 teaspoon instant dried yeast (0.3 grams)
- Scant 4 cups white flour (500 grams)
Bulk fermentation: 2 hours.
Divide, shape and cover dough: 10 minutes.
Second fermentation: 6 hours.
Hold time for use at room temperature: 4 hours, or refrigerate to extend the use until the next evening.
Sample schedule: Mix the dough at 9 a.m., knead it at 9:20 a.m., shape it into dough balls at 11 a.m., make pizza between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. For next-day pizza, refrigerate the dough balls 4 hours after they are made up, then leave them out at room temperature for 1 hour before making pizza.
Measure and combine the ingredients: Using your digital scale, measure 350 grams of 90 to 95 degree water into your 6-quart dough tub. Measure 15 grams of fine sea salt, add it to the water, and stir or swish it around in the tub until it is dis- solved. Measure 0.3 gram (about 1/3 of 1/4 teaspoon) of instant dried yeast. Add the yeast to the water, let it rest there for a minute to hydrate, then swish it around until it’s dissolved. Add 500 grams of flour to the water-salt-yeast mixture.
Mix the dough: Mix by hand, first by stirring your hand around inside the dough tub to integrate the flour, water, salt, and yeast into a single mass of dough. Then using a pincer-like grip with your thumb and forefinger, squeeze big chunks of dough, tightening your grip to cut through the dough. Do this repeatedly, working through the entire mass of dough. With your other hand, turn the tub while you’re mixing to give your active hand a good angle of attack. Then fold the dough back into a unified mass. Continue for just 30 seconds to 1 minute. The target dough temperature at the end of the mix is 80 degrees; use your probe thermometer to check it.
Knead and rise: Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, then knead it on a work surface with a very light dusting of flour for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The skin of the dough should be very smooth. Place the dough ball seam side down in the lightly oiled dough tub. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Hold the dough for 2 hours at room temperature (assuming 70 to 74 degrees) for the first rise. This timeline is flexible, so if you need to do this after 1 hour or 1-1/2 hours, don’t stress, just make up your dough balls a little early and add the difference in time to the next stage.
Shape the dough: Moderately flour a work surface about 2 feet wide. With floured hands, gently ease the dough out of the tub. With your hands still floured, pick up the dough and ease it back down onto the work surface in a somewhat even shape. Dust the entire top of the dough with flour, then cut it into 3 or 5 equal-sized pieces, depending on the style of pizza. Use your scale to get evenly sized dough balls. Shape each piece of dough into a medium-tight round, working gently and being careful not to tear the dough.
Second fermentation: Place the dough balls on lightly floured dinner plates or a baking sheet, leaving space between them to allow for expansion. Lightly flour the tops and cover airtight with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 6 hours for the second fermentation. Alternatively, you can rest the dough balls for 4 hours at room temperature, and then refrigerate to hold for up to the next evening.
Make pizza: Without refrigeration, the dough balls can be used anytime in the 4 hours following the second fermentation. If you refrigerated the dough balls, let them come to room temperature for an hour while you preheat the oven and prepare your toppings.