What a better way to end a brisk winter walk than digging into a wood-fired pizza and refreshing microbrew? Life of Pie at 3632 N Williams Avenue, Portland is a great lunch destination every day of the week. Even better, they offer happy hour specials 11 am - 6 pm daily.
I stopped in for the happy hour 12-inch margherita pizza $5 and $3 glass of draft microbrew beer (they also have wine for $3). It's hard to find a sandwich alone at a food cart for that price. And you get comfy indoor seating and actual restrooms that you won't find at most cart pods.
The wood-fired oven is the centerpiece. It was hand made by Stefano Ferrara in Napoli, Italy. Volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius holds the bricks together. How fitting for it to cook us pizzas here in the shadows of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood! Underneath the booths and lining the walls and aisles are racks of wood to feed the beast.
However, you don't get a big lungful of wood smoke when you enter the restaurant. Just a pleasant counter server to take your order and bring you your chosen beverage at the table. There is counter seating as well as booths and tables. The walls are decorated with oven bakers' paddles. When I visited on Super Bowl Sunday, the ambient music was from the 40's and 50's crooners and torch songs,with nary a big screen sports game in sight.
I sampled the appetizers previously -- oven roasted meatballs in marinara sauce, and aracini. They were great, but I especially loved the kale and arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette. It's a big portion, and you could be very happy with a salad and a meatball as a meal.
The 12-inch pizzas are just right for a solo meal, or splitting if you pair it with salad. The crust is thin and crisp in the center, with a thicker rim. My favorite pie was the fennel sausage with Mama Lil's peppers. In addition to their creative combos, you can make your own combination from their ingredient list, which includes carmelized onions, oven-roasted leeks, garlic confit, fennel sausage, bacon, pepperoni, and Mama Lil's peppers.
In fact, the Life of Pie pizza was my first introduction to Mama Lil's, an artisanal northwest product that recently moved from the Yakima Valley to Portland. These pickled Hungarian goathorn peppers in oil make a great pizza or sandwich topping.
Life of Pie is open every day from 11 am - 10 pm. They are located just a block from New Seasons and a block from Tasty N Sons on North Williams Ave. Stopping in at 11 am on a Sunday, I had my pizza in about 10 minutes and was on my way in less than a half hour. I won't say it's worth ditching the long wait to get into Tasty N Sons for brunch, OR AM I?