Pizza may have been born in Italy, but it’s become about as American as apple pie. In fact, today some 93 percent of Americans dive into a pizza at least once a month. That’s around 20 pounds of pizza per year. Per person. Of course, with people like Portland’s Mark Doxtader producing addictive hand-tossed pies, it’s hardly any wonder we’re gorging ourselves on all that doughy goodness.
Even better, Doxtader has managed to put a Portland spin on his pizza. Every weekend for the past eight years, the former Canby farmer turned pizzaiolo has schlepped a two-ton oven to the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University, where he has been dishing out wood-fired slices to long lines of loyal fans. And just this spring he opened Tastebud, a family-friendly pizzeria tucked away on an unlovely stretch of SE Milwaukie Avenue.
Doxtader’s formula is simple: thick layers of seasonal, local ingredients are applied to dough that’s zapped to perfection in a 600-degree wood-burning oven. The resulting pies (big enough for two) are rustic and somewhat messy, but in all the right ways. Of the half-dozen pizzas offered, a salami piccante pie ($19) is light and airy. Even the more heady creations—such as a judiciously dressed pie of roasted peaches, pancetta, mascarpone, and arugula ($22)—feel down-home. And judging from the appetizers on the menu, Doxtader’s nine years spent tending rows of vegetables have given him a sixth sense for knowing when a head of lettuce or a carrot is at its peak. A salad of mixed greens, basil, heirloom tomatoes, and red peppers ($7) shimmers in its elemental earthiness. Meaning that, while eating pizza may be an American pastime, Doxtader has turned the act of eating his pizza into an inherently Portland pastime.