Portland has been called “the best pizza city in America” not once but twice by people who know such things. If that wasn’t enough hype, one of our pizza shops was even included on a list of the 50 best pizza restaurants in the world. And it came in at number two! So, what makes Portland pizza so special? Why do our pies keep getting so much attention?
We could easily write an essay on how our naturally leavened doughs use higher-quality milled grains grown right here in the Pacific Northwest. Or how a temperate rainforest full of centuries-old trees and glistening streams provides most of the city’s drinking water, making it perfect for pizza dough (and ramen).
We could also mention that our pizzaioli are not just passionate but downright obsessed with seasonality and making sure every ingredient used is at its peak freshness. We could go on and on about the uniqueness of our pizza scene, or you can eat some slices and find out for yourself.
Explore Portland Pizza
Some might say this is where it all started. These talented pizza makers helped put Portland pizza on the map.
Brian Spangler opened Apizza Scholls in 2005 with a singular mission to create the perfect, thin-crust, East Coast-style pizza, setting the gears in motion for Portland to become a pizza destination. His handcrafted pies with a slightly charred and chewy crust have been called pilgrimage-worthy by no less a culinary expert than Anthony Bourdain.
If dining in at this Southeast Portland pizza spot, check out their classic arcade room; they take phone orders and Uber Eats if you’d rather do carryout or delivery. As for house combos, try the Paulie Gee, a marinara-sauced pie topped with mozzarella, hot soppressata, ricotta, Sicilian oregano, garlic, fresh basil and then drizzled with Mike’s Hot Honey. If in season, the clam pie is not to be missed. Their other white pies, like the Tartufo2 or the Bacon Bianca, are also very popular. And if you can’t decide, they do half-and-half pies.
Ken’s Artisan Pizza
If you want the closest thing to a slice found in Naples, Italy, this Central Eastside pizza shop is your stop. You won’t find showy, unexpected toppings at Ken’s Artisan Pizza, but that doesn’t mean their pies lack excitement. A prestigious guide to the best pizzerias in the world ranked Ken’s wood-fired, blistered-crust pizzas in their top three for the United States in 2023.
James Beard award-winning author and retired founder Ken Forkish first opened the French-inspired Ken’s Artisan Bakery before branching out to make his much-loved Neapolitan-style pizza pies. You won’t go wrong with their soppressata, an elevated take on the pepperoni pizza (ordering peppery arugula as an additional topping is a pro move). But if you prefer a white pie, the mortadella and pistachio pie topped with pistachio pesto, fresh mozzarella and pickled shallots is a must. Long waits are common; going early or making a reservation is recommended.
Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
While other pizza shops on this list are trying to perfect a crispy East Coast-style crust or achieve an elegant Neapolitan rise, owner and chef Sarah Minnick of Lovely’s Fifty Fifty is steadfast in making the perfect Oregon sourdough pizza. Jake, the sourdough starter (yes, she named it), is an integral part of their pizza’s flavor profile and is only fed the finest locally milled grains. Minnick’s highly seasonal menu features the bounty of nearby farms, making for creative toppings and playful combinations (don’t be surprised if you find fresh flowers on your slice).
Their delicious starter salads, sophisticated vegetable side dishes, and homemade ice cream are all equally worthy of adoration and offer vegetarians more imaginative options than most pizza parlors. Be forewarned, the lines at this long-standing favorite have grown even longer since Minnick was featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table: Pizza. Luckily, it’s located in the historic Mississippi District, so there’s plenty to check out once you’ve added your name to the waitlist. Seating is family-friendly, but you can always call in an order for pick-up if you’d rather skip the wait.
Perhaps better known as one of our country’s top Italian restaurants, the naturally leavened, thin-crust pies at Nostrana hold their own, frequently making best pizza lists. After opening in 2005, owner and chef Cathy Whims received six consecutive James Beard Foundation Award nominations for Best Chef: Northwest. Once a student of the famed Italian cookbook writer Marcella Hazan, Whims is now considered the unofficial authority on Italian cooking in our region.
Nostrana’s Neapolitan-style pizzas are only topped with what’s growing locally, so the menu changes daily. Check for their late-night happy hour, when the menu narrows to small plates and pizza. Order one of their legendary Negronis and try your luck with the Jazz Pie, improvised nightly. And though not pizza-related, you really must order whatever pasta dish features the phenomenal Marcella’s No. 3 tomato butter sauce. Trust us.
The New School
These newer pizza shops are leading the pack with their own unique takes on Portland pizza, building on what the heavies started.
Scottie’s Pizza Parlor
Already a veteran of the Portland pizza scene, Scott Rivera opened his pizza parlor in 2015. Focusing on simple, well-crafted East-Coast style pies, Scottie’s grew a loyal customer base that has afforded two locations. The pizza parlor’s naturally leavened dough is slowly fermented before baking in a very hot electric deck oven, making for a crisp, light and airy crust with a pleasant sourdough flavor. Order the DeFino, a super thin-crust grandma-style Sicilian square pizza made with a base of both fresh and aged mozzarella, tomato sauce, oregano, fresh basil, pecorino and garlic oil. Most pies can be made vegan.
Cafe Olli broke into the Portland pizza scene by making every local “Best New Restaurants” list in 2022. Their pizza dough contains more whole wheat, producing a nuttier, chewier bite, and their wood-fired oven beautifully blackens some of the finest sourdough crust in town.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this “handmade everything,” worker-owned collective of five chef-baker friends crafts remarkable seasonal-based menus that lean heavily on locally sourced ingredients and exquisitely baked goods. A crowd-favorite pie is their Pomodoro pizza with homemade stracciatella cheese.
After finding its footing as a food cart and growing into a brick-and-mortar in the St. Johns neighborhood, Gracie’s Apizza pulled together some of the most interesting topping combinations in the city. Owner and chef Craig Melillo is constantly striving for better and curiously experimenting with new ingredients.
Order the Daily Pie and expand your idea of what works on a pizza (peaches, potatoes, confit leeks!). But if you prefer to play it safe, the tomato pie is a thing of beauty and elegant simplicity. There is a wonderfully curated wine list for thoughtful pairings. And there are vegan options and substitutions available if you ask. Take note that Melillo’s wood-charred pies frequently sell out.
These pizza shops are doing their own thing altogether; they’re experimenting with the most basic building blocks of what is considered a pizza and still making absolutely mouthwatering pies.
Since 2007, Dove Vivi has made some of the most non-conventional pies in Portland. Their deep-dish cornmeal crust is baked in a skillet and bears little resemblance in taste or texture to more traditional wheat-based pizza dough. The flavor is indescribable and addictive.
This Northeast Portland pizza shop has also put together some of the most inventive flavor pairings, including fried green tomatoes and marinated grapes. They also introduced fresh corn as a worthy pizza topping to the Portland pizza scene. If you can’t decide on a pie, order the Chef’s Choice, which is six different slices chosen by the chef. Plenty of veggie and vegan options, but their cornmeal crusts are not gluten-free.
Featuring an entirely plant-based menu, this Northeast Portland pizzeria makes flavorful vegan Detroit-style pies. Boxcar Pizza has done the seemingly impossible: It’s made meat-eaters crave vegan pizza. Their cheeseburger pizza, topped with cheddar, beef, red onions, pickles and burger sauce, makes you forget it’s vegan. It’s that good. And their unpredictable toppings, like caramelized peaches, sliced hot dogs and baked blackberries, continually push what you think could go on a pizza and still taste good.
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This St. Johns food cart is creating some of Portland’s most interesting flavor combinations. Take their love letter to the potato samosa; it’s topped with spiced potatoes, green peas, mozzarella, cilantro chutney and finished with tamarind chutney swirled over it all. Like many of Portland’s best pizzerias, Pizza Creature’s menu varies with the season, so a good bet is to order the special. All pies can be made entirely vegan, and they’re located at the St. Johns Beer Porch, a food cart pod with a beer garden and a full bar.
These pizza shops don’t care what you think. They’ll dip their pizza in ranch, pair it with a hoagie and finish it with a Rice Krispie Treat bathed in soft serve. They don’t give one flying truck.
Specializing in Sicilian meets Detroit-style pizza, Ranch makes some of Portland’s most decadent deep-dish squared slices with gooey, crispy edges. And true to its namesake, every slice is accompanied by ranch dipping sauce. Each location has a signature combo, which is worth trying if you’re feeling adventurous, but you can never go wrong with pepperoni and ranch.
With locations in both the Cully neighborhood and downtown Portland, Pizza Jerk is an irreverent homage to classic Connecticut-style pizza. Offering round, thin-crust pies and cast-iron deep-dish along with an array of dipping sauces that includes three kinds of ranch, they provide plenty of opportunity to ruin a good shirt. There are gluten-free options and an inclusive vegan menu (yes, there’s vegan ranch), so no one feels left out. Try their daily specials or the Clam Jam (a New Haven delicacy), but leave room for dessert; they usually have a must-try Rice Krispie concoction.
Owner Shardell Dues used to manage Apizza Scholls, and her East Coast-style crust is reminiscent of her former employer’s. But with combos like the Elote, a pizza pie topped with feta, corn, cilantro, cherry tomato, red onion and a swirl of Tajín lime aioli, there’s no mistaking Red Sauce is its own thing. Believing in handmade everything, they even smoke their own meats. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, hoagie specials made on homemade sourdough bread sell out fast. Save room for sinful seasonal desserts and soft-serve ice cream.
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No finicky wood-fired ovens or pretense, just good times and pizza. All these shops also sell by the slice, as the party pizza gods intended.
With pizza combos named Napalm Breath, Ace of Spades and Hellraiser, it might not come as a surprise that the inside of a Sizzle Pie is reminiscent of a teenage metalhead’s bedroom. There are rock posters everywhere, and the music is usually blasting. Growing into a local chain, Sizzle Pie now serves slices from numerous locations across the Portland metro area.
No-frills, delicious ‘za with a highly regarded, dedicated vegan menu and some gluten-free options (but if you have celiac disease, scroll down for our GF picks). Try the Crunchy Taco or the T.U.R.T.L.E. Power, a classic topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, white onion, green pepper, black olives and absolutely no anchovies.
Escape From New York Pizza
Portland’s first by-the-slice pizza shop! This old-school pizzeria has been serving New York-style thin-crust pies and slices since 1983. Located in Northwest Portland, Escape From New York Pizza has beer on tap, Yoo-hoo, soda and a variety of Original New York Seltzer to choose from. Everything is made fresh daily, and they plate up all the hits.
Baby Doll Pizza
Travis Miranda opened this New York-style pizzeria in 2012, naming it after his grandfather’s Manhattan strip club. With a deep tap list and adjoining full bar, Baby Doll Pizza is frequently ranked as one of the city’s top pizza bars. Find yourself a black leather booth inside the checkerboard-floored shop, play a game or two of pinball, and then try the Nonna Pie, their specialty deep-dish pizza. If you’re still hungry, order one of their majestic subs featuring meatballs made with house-made brisket and short ribs.
Best Gluten-Free Pizza
Now, here’s the deal: Nearly every Portland pizza shop has a gluten-free or vegan option because Portland is just that awesome. A few pizza shops (Boxcar, Baby Doll and Sizzle Pie) boast gluten-free crusts that wow even those who eat all the gluten. That said, these are three standouts for the GF crowd.
If you want tons of delicious vegan and gluten-free options, Virtuous Pie is your pizza spot. Their pies are made using hand-stretched, three-day dough and homemade, delicious artisanal nut-based cheeses. All pizzas are fully vegan and sized at 10 inches (25.4 cm) for an individual portion, but there are plenty of scrumptious sides (also vegan) to share. The menu is clearly labeled for those with nut and wheat allergies.
Mississippi Pizza Pub
Mississippi Pizza Pub was one of the first Portland pizza shops to offer tasty gluten-free options. And though not a strictly gluten-free environment, they do make their gluten-free crusts in a separate facility. They also use a designated pizza oven and separate pans and utensils. And any of their signature meat, vegetarian or vegan pies can be made gluten-free. They also usually have live events every night, so if you want to catch a band or a comedy show while enjoying a delicious gluten-free pizza, this might be your slice.
First and foremost, Pinky’s is an excellent whiskey bar that has a collection of over 450 bottles from all over the world. But their pizza dough’s weeklong, cold fermentation process makes their pies more than bar food.
Though not a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, they will try their best to accommodate any sensitivities, and their toothsome, perfectly cooked, gluten-free crust is one of the best in Portland. They’re working with a smaller oven, so wait times can be close to an hour on busy nights, but did I mention they have whiskey? Try their Get Wounded pie, featuring taleggio, figs and hot honey.
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