We love pizza, pizza, pizza! In Portland, pizza joints mix a hip and casual NW-vibe with original pies to make heading out for pizza the way to go on a Friday night (or a Tuesday afternoon, or really any day of the week if you’re a pizza lover like us). Parents can sit back with a microbrew, kids can swivel on retro bar stools, and everyone can dig into that cheesy goodness. Portland’s been dropping its own beat on the classic pie for years. Check out some newer, yummy, family-friendly places, but don’t overlook Portland classics that never go out of style. The pizzerias below are beloved, delicious, and timelessly cool.
Escape From New York Pizza
Escape From New York Pizza opened in 1983 and was the first pizza shop in Portland to offer slices. Don’t go to Escape expecting to be coddled. They don’t take credit or debit cards, they don’t customize slices, and they don’t have salads. Why go? Their pizza is delicious (Escape makes their own sauce and lets it simmer to perfection) and they have a kickin’ selection of bottled drinks for kids. Stick with cheese or pepperoni. Or mushroom. Or whatever the selection of the day is. You really can’t go wrong.The slices make you want to fold them up and eat them on the street just like in New York City. But you’re in Portland, and it’s raining, so you’ll want to eat inside. Kids can feel grown-up sitting on the bar stools, or keep your eye out for the crown jewel: the odd-shaped window seat in the front.
622 NW 23rd Avenue
Sometimes it’s hard to order a whole pie because everyone wants something different. Pizza Oasis to the rescue! Opened in 1986, Pizza Oasis makes scrumptious whole pies and salads, but they also offer gourmet slices made to order. Try a slice of the Delta Bleu (chicken breast, tomatoes, fresh garlic, and bleu cheese) or the Speedy Gonzales (spicy chorizo, roma tomatoes, fresh garlic, and cheddar). Vegetarian and vegan options are also delicious. Giant windows overlooking Broadway and 22nd Street provide entertainment for kids when they get tired of coloring. The staff is super friendly, and you can call in your order ahead so it’s hot and ready when you arrive (eliminating wait time for hungry kids!).
2241 W Burnside Street
Portland’s oldest pizzeria was planned as a three-story speakeasy, but a new mayor put the kibosh on the gin-mill plans and the business opened in 1949 as an Italian eatery. If you are looking for a thin-crust pie layered with flavor, Caro Amico is perfect. The rectangular slices are the ideal size for little hands. Try the classic Stevie’s Wonder: peperoncinis, fresh garlic, and pepperoni. Caro Amico prides itself on being family-friendly, but also has a date-night ambiance, so watch out: You may end up with a glass of Chianti instead of a brew. Dinner starts at 4:15 pm, but it’s better to go later when things are in full swing to help draw attention away from squirmy kids. Call ahead to make a reservation so that you can request a booth next to the window facing the Willamette, where kids can watch the airtrams go by.
3606 SW Barbur Boulevard
Old Town Pizza
This Portland pizza joint has been around since 1974, but the building is much older (make sure to watch out for Nina, the resident ghost). The highlight of going to Old Town Pizza is the ambiance. Warm, creaking wood floors, Victorian-style furniture, marble tables, and stained glass lamps make you feel like you’re at Grandma’s house—if she had a bar full of beer taps in her living room. The staff is great about offering high chairs, opening doors for strollers, and bringing out whatever is needed for little ones. The pizza is perfect for kids: thick soft crust and traditional toppings. For adults, try out one of the specials—pasta, bruschetta, or sandwiches. Guests place their orders at a wooden window inside. For families it’s best to send half the crew to find a good table and a board game, while the other half orders a pitcher and an appetizer to start.
226 NW Davis Street
photo courtesy of Evelyn Shoop