Posts Tagged ‘Pizza’

Pizza by Mat Douglas

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Recipes
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Tonight, my husband made pizza for the family, and when he pulled them from the oven, they ended up looking like “works of art,” so he asked me to write a review about them. 

The Pepperoni

Location:  Home

Order:  Pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, red bell pepper, red onion, mushrooms, pineapple and extra cheese.

What I Think:

Recently, my husband offered a helpful hint to our soon-to-be son-in-law.  I can’t remember exactly how he put it, but to paraphrase, it went a little something like this:  “learn to cook one or two things very well so that you can give your significant other a day off from cooking once in a while.”  One of the things that my husband can prepare very well is pizza.

The "Works" Douglas Style: Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Red Bell Pepper, Mushrooms, Red Onions and Extra Cheese. Half with Pineapple.

Aside from not having to do much when it comes to cooking dinner (I do have to do some minor preparation, like slicing the mushrooms and bell peppers and cooking the Italian sausage), what I like best about homemade pizza night is that I can have the pizza customized to just the way I like it:  pepperoni, sausage, red bell pepper, thick cut mushrooms, red onions, extra cheese and pineapple.  Sure, I can get these ingredients at most pizzerias – with the exception of the thick cut mushrooms – but it ends up costing a fortune to get the pizza made just right, and since I’m the only one in this household who likes pineapple on pizza, I feel really bad having to purchase a special pizza just for me.

But when my husband makes the pizza, he can add pineapple to my portion of the pizza for just pennies.  And my husband really is a master when it comes to making pizza.  The crust is crispy and delicious, just the right amount of sauce and lots of cheese … and here’s the best part:  the mushrooms!  Most pizza joints slice their mushrooms too thin, and they either end up too over cooked and I can’t really taste them because the flavor gets lost with the stronger flavors of sausage and pepperoni.  Or worse yet, the texture of the thin-sliced mushroom ends up slimy and that’s just not very good.  I like my mushrooms sliced thick, so that I can taste their earthy, meaty flavor and the texture remains intact.

We buy the dough pre-made.  Our local grocery store bakery mixes the dough, and sells it in slabs, and the crust that this dough makes is quite delicious.  Mat rolls the dough onto cornmeal (I love the texture that this step creates) and then stretches it onto the pizza pan.  He then par-bakes the crust, and then tops it with sauce, cheese, and toppings.  He bakes it until the crust is golden brown, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  What emerges from the oven is a pie of perfection … or in his words:  “A work of art.”

My Final Thoughts:

I would take Mat’s homemade pizza over anything from a pizzeria any day.  This is the kind of pizza you eat with a fork because the toppings are heavier than the crust.  It’s delizioso!

I discovered the Pit Stop in Beaverton through Living Social, and to be honest, I don’t think I would have ever visited this establishment had it not been for Living Social.  It’s just not really my kind of place.  In a sports bar like this, I was a fish out of water.  What lead me to purchase the Living Social coupon was I thought it was a place my husband could appreciate because he does love sports.  Unfortunately, we chose to visit on a Sunday, and I was surrounded by football fanatics.  More than the food of this place, what surprised me the most about our time at the Pit Stop was the fact that there are people who are even more excitable than my husband while watching a football game (or in the case of the Pit Stop, all the football games at once).  

Thai Chicken Pizza

Location:  10245 SW Canyon Road, Portland, OR

Order:  For an appetizer, we shared an order of Pulled Pork Sliders and Fries ($8.99 for five sliders).  I chose the Thai Chicken Pizza ($9.99 for a 9″ pie).

What I Think:

We had ordered the sliders without the cole slaw topping, and I guess this was overlooked on the ticket, because our first order of sliders arrived at the table covered in cole slaw.  We sent this order back (my husband does NOT like cole slaw).  A replacement (without the slaw) arrived pretty quickly, and I really did enjoy these sliders. The pork was incredibly tender, and they were not slathered with any type of sauce.  Instead, they brought out two different sauces (one mild, one spicy) so that we could top the sliders ourselves.  Since pulled pork is often over-sauced, I liked that I could control the amount and the heat of my sauce (I found that a ratio of 2 parts mild sauce to 1 part spicy sauce was just about perfect).

The french fries were REALLY good.  They were coated in a batter before frying – somewhat reminiscent of a curly fry type batter.  Normally, I don’t really like the curly fry batter, it is often overly seasoned and takes away from the flavor of the potato.  But this batter was spot-on … it enhanced the crispiness of the french fry without overwhelming it.

Before we arrived at the Pit Stop, I did glance at the online menu, and I figured I’d probably order from their barbeque selections.  However, when we got there, my eye kept going back to the Thai Chicken Pizza.  And I’m glad I decided to order this pizza.  Yes, I am sure I would have loved the ribs, but, I really liked this pizza.  The dough itself was just kind of average.  Nothing really outstanding… in fact, it reminded me a bit of biscuit dough but didn’t rise like a biscuit would have.

But the toppings made it for me.  The peanut sauce was yummy, and together with the pineapple chunks it provided sweetness to the pie to contrast the spiciness of the pepper flakes.  The chicken was tender although it was a little on the dry side (since it was probably twice cooked:  once prior to baking the pizza, and then in the oven with the pizza).  But I was able to overlook this because it had a pleasing tender texture, and the flavor of the peanut sauce was so appealing. The sesame seeds added a nice crunchy and slightly nutty element to the pie.

As delicious as it was, I couldn’t finish the pizza in one sitting, but I was able to bring the rest home and the left overs were almost as good as the fresh baked pie.

My Final Thoughts:

While I probably won’t ever be back to the Pit Stop, I certainly did enjoy my visit.  Unfortunately, hanging out in a bar full of screaming sports fans and wannabe sports announcers just isn’t something that’s high on my list of things I want to do.  That being said, if you are a sports fan living in the Portland/Beaverton area, you should definitely stop by the Pit Stop.  I was pleased at how delicious the food was.  The service we received was also very good – our server was very busy so there was some wait time, but, this was more than made up for with personable service.

Paccini Restaurant is located in the area of the Portland State University Campus; an area in Portland that exemplifies one of the many things that I love about Portland.  This is no ordinary campus.  It is located in the heart of Portland.  It isn’t like a set apart, dedicated campus area like most college campuses.  It is part of the city itself.  But, I digress…

1/2 order of lasagna

Location:  1717 SW Park Avenue in Portland, OR

Order:  1/2 order Lasagna (with Italian Sausage); Garlic Fries; Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Panini; Slice of Pizza topped with Pepperoni, Sausage and Canadian Bacon.  (My husband and I decided we wanted to try a little bit of a few different things, so we shared each item on the order.) 

What I Think:

The atmosphere of the Paccini Restaurant is very college-lounge-like.  Dimly lit, casual and comfortable, complete with a fireplace in the middle of the dining area and student artwork on the walls.  It is the kind of place that you’d expect to host a poetry reading or a guitar-strumming folk singer.  It seems to be a very popular place amongst students, as we dined there on a Tuesday afternoon and it was quite busy.

Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Panini

The lasagna ($6.00 for 1/2 an order) was quite tasty.  It came with a piece of in-house made focaccia bread that is quite good – lightly seasoned, warm and soft.

Most noteworthy to this taster is that the flavorful sauce of the lasagna was thick and rich with ripe tomato flavor – not at all watery.  There was an abundance of cheese – although I noticed that the ricotta filling was not overdone (which is probably one reason the lasagna wasn’t watery).  The cheese was bubbly and even a little crisp on the edges.  Stretchy!  The noodles were tender without being mushy.  A very well prepared lasagna.

But my favorite entree was the Panini Sandwich ($7.00).  The bread was their focaccia bread that they make in-house and was toasted just right, creating a nice, crunchy crust but still soft and tender on the inside.  Their focaccia bread is seasoned nicely and compliments the Panini quite well.  I chose the Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Panini.  As I ate the sandwich, I couldn’t help but wish that there was a restaurant like this on my college campus back when I was attending; I was a vegetarian back then and this would have been such a satisfying meal.

The cheese was melted and it blended with the Dijonaise sauce so well – these two components gave a thin creaminess to the sandwich.  The basil added a beautiful, fresh element to the sandwich and the tomato was deliciously ripe and sweet.  The red onion gave the sandwich a pleasant crunch and just enough zing.  This sandwich had the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Both the sandwich and the lasagna came with a small side salad composed of baby mixed greens and a tomato slice, sprinkled generously with Parmesan cheese.  The sandwich was crisp and fresh, but, it was a little over-dressed for my liking.

Garlic Fries

Of the three entrees, the slice of pizza ($4.25 for a slice of pizza and a soft drink) was our least favorite.  This slice seemed to be a slice of cheese pizza that had been baked off prior to our arrival and waiting in a heating unit … and then topped with pepperoni, sausage and Canadian bacon after we ordered it.  It wasn’t bad, but it was quite average and I guess we had higher hopes for it – and sadly, it failed to deliver.

The side of Garlic Fries ($4.00) more than made up for my pizza disappointment.  They were fresh out of the fryer:  perfectly cooked with a crisp exterior and a tender interior.  The fries on the top were did not taste strongly of garlic.  The garlic taste was there… it just wasn’t strong.  But as we made our way to the center of the order of fries, we could see chunks of fresh garlic.  YUM!  I do love garlic!  The garlic was pungent and just a little on the hot side.  Perfect.  These fries would not be the ideal choice if you’re on a date – but they certainly would be a great to snack on after class.

My Final Thoughts:

As I said before, this is the kind of restaurant I would have only been too happy to have on my own college campus back when I attended:  good food and a casual, inviting atmosphere.  I do recommend avoiding the “slice of pizza” offerings, and instead opt for a whole pizza or perhaps something else from the menu.

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