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.