Kind of late notice, but: Tula’s gluten free bakery at Alberta & MLK is having a grand opening party tonight (Sat 9/10) from 4-8. We will be there eating pizza.
Considering that their pizza graced the cover of the Portland Monthly Magazine in February of this year, I have an itching suspicion that we’re a little late to the party at Sizzle Pie. That doesn’t change the fact that their pizza is awesome.
Sizzle Pie is smack dab in the hip blocks of East Burnside, at 624. It’s a couple blocks from the Doug Fir, and practically next door to that one cool bar with no name. Like the neighborhood, the decor, help, and jukebox is also hip. When we went there, the music ranged from The Cramps to a song that sounded like Devo if Devo was playing buzz guitars.
The menu is adventurous/upscale. By “upscale” I don’t mean expensive. I mean there are ingredients like white truffle oil, goat cheese, cilantro pepitas pesto, and even dried cranberries. At Sizzle Pie, a person can get what might be called “gourmet pizza” if the term hadn’t already been ruined by marketers. Obviously, you can also get a basic pepperoni and mushroom slice if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s nice to know there are lots of interesting options. All their crusts are vegan, including the gluten-free crust. They also have an enormous vegan section in their menu.
As with most pizza places, alas, they cook the gluten-free pizza in a shared oven. So if you’re in the population who really need to watch out, then you should keep eating your pizza at New Cascadia or build your own with a store-bought crust.
Speaking of pizza, the Sizzle Pie crust style is thin, and there are green specs in the crust, so obviously they’re adding in some spices to make it more flavorful. It’s delicious. Along with being thin, it’s also the perfect amount of crunchy. I don’t know how they did it, but this is among the best gluten-free crusts I’ve had. We got the Golden Ring pizza, which is White Truffle Oil, Goat Cheese, and Green Onion, and we added garlic and pepperoni. This was one awesome pizza. We got a 12 inch pizza and it was the perfect size to feed two.
There are two things to note. First, the regular “large” pizza is 18 inches, but the gluten-free large is 16. Apparently the gluten-free crust just won’t get those extra couple of inches bigger. Second, don’t assume that the pizza you’re ordering is going to have red sauce. If you really want a pizza with red sauce, you should probably ask. There’s a place on the menu where it says that all their pizzas feature red sauce “unless otherwise noted” but this ends up being a little confusing, because if you get pesto, white truffle oil, caramelized onion spread, cream sauce, or something else that counts as “sauce” then you’re not getting red sauce. Which makes sense, but we got caught out.
Luckily, our pizza was awesome without red sauce.
Everybody we had contact with was very friendly, the pizza came out hot, and the place is nice and clean. We sat out back on the patio, which was great on a warm August night. There was a line when we walked in the door, and there was a line when we left.
Our final verdict: With gluten-free pizza, we think that the crust is most of the battle, and so many crusts lack crunch or aren’t very flavorful. We’re going to have to try some more pies from Sizzle Pie, and it’s definitely not going to be a painful process, luckily! Have you eaten there yet? Let us know in the comments!
Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly but Shared Oven So Watch Out
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: 1 or 2 bucks, depending on the size
624 E. Burnside, Portland OR, 97214 / 503.234.7437
Queen of Hearts Baking Company emailed us recently to invite us to try their gluten-free pies. The owner, Molly Thurston Parker, recently launched a wholesale bakery to sell her pies, which are individual-sized. She sells the pies at the Buckman Farmers Market (SE 20th and SE Salmon, Thursdays, 3-7pm), at Salt Fire and Time Community Grocery on NW 24th Ave, at Pacific Pie Company on SE 7th, and at Flying Cat Coffee Shop on SE Division. When you go to the Buckman Farmers Market, it’s usually Molly who is there working the booth.
Queen of Hearts makes both savory and sweet pies. We stopped by the stand a couple of weeks ago and picked up some pies (which, in the interest of full disclosure, she gave us for free). On the savory side, Queen of Hearts makes a Black Bean & Pepper Jack Cheese pie and a Curried Lentil and Veggie pie. On the sweet side, Queen of Hearts makes a Hazelnut & Apricot pie, a Mixed Berry pie, and a Nutella pie. We tried everything but the Nutella pie.
The pies come packaged in twos. Each pie is an individual meal, and all of them are basically vegetarian. The instructions for cooking are quite simple. You can start from frozen or thawed, but basically you bake them in an oven at 375 degrees F until the crust is golden brown. We ate both the savory pies with some sauteed veggies, but they would also probably be great with a side salad.
Considering we’re talking about pies here, the most important consideration is going to be the crust. The Queen of Hearts crust is really excellent and amazing! It’s the exact kind of crisp and flavor a person wants from a pie crust. We were both really enamored of them, especially because so many gluten-free crusts are so disappointing.
We both also agreed that we liked the savory pies more than the dessert pies. The Curried Lentil and Veggie pie is filled with sweet potatoes, onion, coconut milk, lentils, kale, ginger and spices. Like most curries, we found that the flavor and experience was better with some yogurt on the side to offset the curry. It would probably also be really nice with a chutney. If you’re a curry fan, then these are a real treat.
Our favorite pie was the Black Bean & Pepper Jack Cheese pie. Besides the two ingredients in the name, these pies have tomatoes, green chiles, onion, spices, and pepper flakes. Besides broccoli, we added some yogurt here, too (instead of sour cream), and some avocado. These pies have a great flavor and are the perfect level of spicy.
As mentioned earlier, we thought that the dessert pies were just OK. Pictured above is the Mixed Berry pie paired with vanilla ice cream from Portland’s own Fifty Licks. This pie is made with blueberries and marionberries. The Hazelnut & Apricot pies are filled with hazelnut frangipane and apricot preserves, which incidentally contained corn syrup, which we found a little confusing, considering that Queen of Hearts obviously tries to use healthy ingredients in their pies. The dessert pies were a bit bland. This might be one of those cases where the crust is kind of taking the edge off of the ingredients. We both found ourselves wishing that the pies were more tart, or maybe more sweet.
Our final verdict: We really enjoyed the savory pies and think that if you’re looking for something new, interesting, and gluten-free to take home and bake one night, you should give Queen of Hearts a try. Sweet pies are really subjective, so I’d be really interested to hear from any of our readers who have tried Queen of Hearts. Let us know in the comments!
Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: not certain
Queen of Hearts Baking Company
See locations above / 503.421.6842