The owners of Portland Italian mainstay Paciarino have opened a new pizza shop just a hop and a skip away. The aptly named Pizzarino features authentic Italian pizza, salads, risotto/risotto balls, and a number of beverages and desserts. I went with a buddy, hoping to get the feel for what they were serving and how things were going only days after their doors opened. We were seated at the far end of the restaurant right next to the kitchen.
About the time we sat down, a gentleman prepped a dj booth, introduced himself, donned a fedora, and began performing karaoke, starting with Sinatra and moving on to other crooners. It was a little odd, though I suppose it probably fit the scene. I was initially concerned that the volume might make conversation difficult, but since we were at the other end of the room, it turned out to be fine. If we had been closer, it may have been an issue.
Dual beverage pairings were offered on the menu with each food item. We ignored those and I stuck with water while he ordered a Coke. After a lengthy thought process with the food, we decided on our meals, cutely ordering the same items. Each of us would have the Insalata Milano – Arcadian Salad topped with red onions, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese dressed with daily-made vinaigrette – followed by the Prosciutto Cotto Pizza – mozzarella, tomato sauce, prosciutto-cotto-ham, extra virgin olive oil, basil.
I thought the salads could have come out a little faster, but they did eventually show up. They were large – delivered in a metal bowl with handles on either end – of which we were informed in advance. The greens were bright and fresh with a fair amount of grated parm on top. My first bite was quite pleasant. The housemade dressing was stellar. I felt it was among the more well-seasoned Italians/vinaigrettes in town and combined magnificently with the parm to create a truly flavorful salad that was the perfect prep for pizza.
With the veggies done, we waited for the pie and again, they were just a little slow to be delivered. They arrived as “single-serving” (10in?) uncut saucers that were the same size as the plates underneath. Upon asking we were informed that we should simply eat them with a fork and knife. I fogot about all the other times in my life I ate pizza (by the slice) and got to cutting a piece.
The meat and basil looked a little sparse. However, with the first bite, I better understood what was going on. The whole wheat crust was thin which made it easy eating, but toppings were doled out proportionally. More toppings would have been overpowering. This wasn’t an extravagant, gargantuan pizza; it was traditional Italian simplicity.
We finished the pizza and I probably could have had another, though I think most would find the size more than satisfactory for one. We decided not to stop there and grabbed a dessert to finish the meal, as large, hungry people sometimes do. There were a fair number of choices including dessert pizzas and tiramisu, among others, but we decided on the Sorbetto al Limoncello – Sicilian lemon gelato swirled with Limoncello sauce.
Our frozen finale came in a tall, thin glass that was probably a little too romantic for our man-date. It was not exactly what I expected, but quite tasty. It had a creaminess to it that was surprising and went down a little slow since it was so cold. Warming it with my hands helped soften it a bit and I eventually made my way through it, savoring its swet and sour citrus flavors.
With two Cokes, two each of the three items we ordered, and a pizza to take home to Mrs. Portlandeater, the tab came to about $97 after tip. I was really impressed with the salad and thought the pizza was good enough to add to my rotation, especially if I wasn’t looking for just a massive pie and nothing else. My only hope would be that service would speed up slightly, though it wasn’t that bad considering I was there on their sixth day. Head there soon and check out a pizza place that’s Italian through and through. Pizzarino adds another to Portland’s list of pizza eateries that have a style all their own.
505 Fore St.
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