Portland Essentials: 10 Must-Visit Food Carts
The fine people who operate this cart in SE Hawthorne’s Cartopia pod (and their recent expansion on Division Street) appear to have little regard for their personal safety: they spend their entire shifts maintaining an 700 to 800-degree wood burning oven inside a tiny trailer, the outside of which is lined with wood. But I’m not complaining. Their bravery results in beautifully charred 12-inch Neapolitan-style pies that are not only among Portland’s best—from a cart or otherwise—they’re the single best pizza value anywhere in town.
The first sign that you’re making a good decision is that your friendly cart-bound pizzaiolo won’t be able to look you in the eye as he makes change for your Hamilton: he’s too busy keeping an eye on pizzas that take only between one and three minutes to cook. That’s all the time it takes for the crust to develop a wonderful char, crispy on the outside while tender and steaming on the inside, sturdy on the edges and ever-so-slightly slightly soupy in the center. The margherita ($7) is a solid bet, with a bright, slightly sweet sauce topped judiciously with creamy mozz and fresh basil. But don’t be afraid to branch out. The perfectly balanced sausage pie ($9) sports healthy crumbles of fatty, fennel-imbued house made sausage and sharp red onion. The funky, intensely savory white pie with raw onion, hazelnuts, rosemary, and gorgonzola ($9) is a case study in cooperation between strong flavors you might assume would compete.