We were spoil while living in Newark, often getting excellent pizza from the aptly name Wood Fired Pizza just a few blocks away. As we lived in a small college town in an even smaller state, it was assumed that Wood Fired Pizza is the norm rather than the exception for pizza all across the United States. After all, the new pizza revolution had arrived, ushered in an era where artisan pizzas are dime a dozen in metropolitan areas and staple even in small towns. Being a foodie city, Portland offers plenty of pizza options, including wood fired artisan pizza even in the suburbs. I’ve been to a handful of the highly rated restaurants, and none of them seem to match what I was eating in small town USA. That was extremely disappointing and expanding the search radius resulted in locating some decent places, but nothing that would become our go-to-spot. I did find an exception during this period, but it is located too far away for me to be a local. However, I still want to revisit for a consistency test and not judge it based on empty stomach. This is Baby Doll Pizza.
I have not had the luxury to dine in this restaurant, which looks spacious and roomy. It is always crucial to eat pizza fresh from the oven. Some might argue that great pizza could be resurrected at home, but reheating was never part of the design. Fast food companies even sped up deliveries to slow down the cooling rate of pizza before reaching their intended destination, rather than instructing customers to reheat them in a microwave. This time, however, we managed to snagged a few benches outside of the joint. I got there on time, but the pizza has been waiting for us. There are plenty of topping choices, but we stuck close to the classics by ordering a modified #9, with pepperoni, house-made Italian sausage, red pepper, mushroom and onion.
Great pizza requires good crust and solid sauce. The first test is the dough. The crust is slightly charred from the oven which gives that slightly crispy taste but not burnt. Moreover, it is soft and chewy (in a good way), substantial enough to prevent the toppings from falling over. Then comes the sauce, which smells so good even before we tore open the box. The house tomato sauce is excellent, and very umami, which is further supported by the inviting toppings. I believe this topping combination will compensate for a bad pizza, however they just killed it at Baby Doll. The large pizza is colorful and inviting, even came with that characteristics-greasy-look of many other excellent pizzas.
Nothing had came close to this pizza for the last year since I’ve moved to Portland. There are a few decent places out there, like Ex Novo’s Detroit-style and some of the slices places in downtown area, but Baby Doll knocks all of them out of the park. I just wish we could frequent this place more often, but we are satisfied to know that Portland isn’t completely devoid of great pizza. What next? Is Portland going to surprised me with Montreal style bagels?
Visited: Nov 23rd 2020 at 12:30pm for lunch.
Address: 2833 SE Stark Street.