Sometimes when you’re walking around downtown you just want to grab a slice of pizza and go – and maybe even fold that slice for easy carrying.
That’s the lure of Pizzaiolo, an old-fashioned-looking storefront pizza place on Cumberland Avenue in Portland, not far from Congress Street.
And when I say lure, I mean that quite literally. The place has a funky, bright sign in the window, with a giant slice of pizza outlined in neon and the words “Slices to Go!” shining like a beacon to pizza lovers. So if you’re walking around downtown in need of a slice, just follow the neon.
Pizzaiolo serves large, thin-crusted slices, the kind New Yorkers wax poetic about. But what I’ll wax poetic about is the variety. It seems that some pizza places advertising slices have cheese, pepperoni and maybe one other kind available.
But when I went to Pizzaiolo at lunch the other day, there were no fewer than eight varieties of slices ready to be heated and served. I ended up sampling four slices, which were so big they made two ample lunches for me.
I had one slice with mushroom and hamburger, one with spicy Buffalo chicken, one with peppers, mushrooms, onions and pepperoni and one with just cheese.
I also saw in the display case a slice that had white sauce and pepperoni, a Hawaiian slice and one called The Porko, with various pork-based meats.
The thin crust on my slices was indeed foldable. It was crisp for the first bite and tender for the following bites. On the plain cheese, I liked how there wasn’t too much cheese. You know how sometimes a pizza slice has sort of a convertible top of cheese? You take one bite and you lift the cheese right off the crust?
Well with this cheese slice, the cheese and sauce perfectly meshed.
The mushroom and hamburger slice had large slabs of meat, cooked just right. I especially liked the Buffalo chicken slice, which had a lighter red sauce with a nice amount of heat to it.
Oddly, my favorite part might have been the crusts. Pizzaiolo’s crust is almost like a pastry, rich and flaky.
The plain cheese slice was $2.99, while the ones with toppings were $3.49. So two days of lunches only set me back about $15.
The place also has a few tables if you want to fold a slice and sit.
Pizzaiolo’s menu, of course, goes beyond slices. There’s a list of eight specialty pizzas, priced $19 to $21 for most of the larges. And they use whole-milk mozzarella and house-made ricotta and make their own sauce, according to the menu.
The specialty pies include: The White Stone-roni, with mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta and pepperoni; the White Stone Spinach, with mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta, baby spinach, and fresh chopped garlic; a tomato and garlic pie with mozzarella, Parmesan, sliced ripe tomato and lots of fresh chopped garlic; a pesto pie; The Porko, with mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, hand-rolled meatballs; and tomato sauce; a spicy Hawaiian with mozzarella, pepperoni, pineapple chunks, jalapeño pepper and tomato sauce; the Buffalo-iolo Chicken, with spicy Buffalo sauce, chicken, mozzarella, blue cheese, pickled celery and blue cheese dressing; and the Blueberry BBQ Chicken, with spicy wild Maine blueberry barbecue sauce and chicken.
The menu also includes salads, subs and breadsticks. Plus, of course, you can build your own pizza with a list of toppings that include all the favorites, plus things like bacon, blue cheese and sweet potato.
So get your folding hand ready and go try a slice.
WHERE: 360 Cumberland Avenue, Portland; Pizzaioloportland.com; 536-7210
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: About five minutes
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes