Pizza in Portland: Which is the Best Restaurant?

One of the joys of living in Portland is the food. There is a great selection of many different types of food to eat, and one of the best is pizza. I reviewed pizza restaurants Straight from New York Pizza, Pizzicato, and Hot Lips on their pizza flavoring, breadsticks and ambience. The locations visited were 3330 SE Belmont Street, 6042 SE Division Street, and 2211 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, respectively. All three shared similarities in non-pizza items. Each had around four cookies to choose from, a half dozen soda options to pick from, and around four salad options. Straight From New York Pizza is a chain pizza restaurant which opened a new location on 37th and Hawthorne back in August 2018. Their pizza is very cheap, costing only three dollars for a slice of pepperoni, and 17 dollars for a full pepperoni pie. The ambience in Straight From New York Pizza is somewhat loud and crowded, but not to the point where it becomes irritating. The pizza is greasy, the crust is thick, and there is an ample amount of sauce. The pepperoni is larger than Hot Lips, and about as large as Pizzicato. Overall the pizza was very good. However, the breadsticks were not as good. Leaning more towards garlic knotted bread than breadsticks, they are a little too moist, and the marinara is too bland to compliment the breadsticks. You do however, receive three breadsticks an order, similar to the three you receive when you order from Pizzicato. Notable takeaways from Straight From New York Pizza are the affordable prices, multiple price-reducing specials and large breadsticks, although they are not as good as Pizzicatos or Hot Lips. 28-year-old employee Jacqueline stated that a perk of going to Straight From New York Pizza is that you get to watch the pizza being made. “We make our own dough here, put sauce, add toppings.” When questioned about the employee experience, Jacqueline says, “I’ve been here a year. Everyone’s super nice, this is my favorite job so far.” The chain has one location on Burnside, another on Hawthorne, and three in Salem. Pizzicato was the second pizza place I visited, with 13 other restaurants in Oregon. The salad selection is slightly larger than Straight From New York Pizza and Pizzicato, and the menu also has six panini options. The atmosphere is quiet, although it likely gets louder during business rushes. Regarding the pizza, the crust is thinner than Straight From New York Pizza, and there is a good amount of sauce, almost bordering on too much. The pizza is slightly less greasy than Straight From New York Pizza, and has similarly sized pepperoni. The pizza is not quite as good as Straight From New York Pizza, but is still very tasty. The breadsticks however, are phenomenal. Large amounts of cheese in three large breadsticks complement the savory marinara sauce at a reasonable price of only $5.25. According to 28-year-old employee Chelsea, the dough used for the pizza is hand-tossed, with most ingredients being fresh. “We make new dough every morning. Then we cook it in the brick oven.” When asked what her opinion is on the quality of their breadsticks, she states that they are “amazing, they are filled with cheese, and you get a good amount of them for your money’s worth.”

The location I went to also closes earlier than most others, at 8:00 or 9:00 instead of midnight, so employees have fewer hours to work. Pizzicato has solid pizza followed up with great breadsticks, as well as a somewhat large selection of paninis to choose from. The last restaurant I visited was Hot Lips, a restaurant with 6 locations in Portland. Boasting a large indoor and outdoor seating area on restaurant grounds, the ambience is relaxed and fun. Although Hot Lips has no excessive appetizers, it makes up for that in toppings, as you can mix and match many different kinds of fruits, nuts, veggies, cheese and meats on a customizable pizza crust. In addition, the pizza is the best out of the three, with a balanced amount of grease, a somewhat thin crust, and smaller pepperoni which hang loosely on the pizza. There is no sauce overflow, and the pizza is reasonably priced. The breadsticks are also delicious. Although there is no cheese hidden inside them like Pizzicato’s, the garlic parmesan breadsticks are delicious to dip in the best marinara sauce presented from all three restaurants. In summary, what really makes Hot Lips the best pizza restaurant out of the three reviewed is the one-two punch of flavor in the pizza and breadsticks, with an added bonus given for the marinara sauce being so delicious as well. 35-year-old employee Adam said that he did not eat pizza from other restaurants because he liked the pizza at Hot Lips that much more than the other restaurants. “In terms of ingredients, we make our dough here, and all ingredients are sourced from local farms. I have worked here at Hot Lips 7 years, and enjoyed every minute,” stated Adam. In conclusion, although there is a time and place for all of these restaurants, the clear choice would be Hotlips. The pizza-breadstick combo is incredibly flavorful when the two are paired together, with the marinara sauce driving the point home. Overall, each of these choices are subjective, and many will most likely arrive at different answers; if you also enjoy pizza and breadsticks together with your meal, then Hotlips would be the recommended pick.

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