Until recently, wood-fired pizza was a rare commodity in Portland. With the openings of Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Nostrana and Apizza Scholls, Portlanders now have some choices regarding authentic pizza. These are restaurants that let their dough rise for over 24 hours and make sure every ingredient placed on the pizza is fine-tuned to perfection.
Until recently, wood-fired pizza was a rare commodity in Portland.
With the openings of Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Nostrana and Apizza Scholls, Portlanders now have some choices regarding authentic pizza. These are restaurants that let their dough rise for over 24 hours and make sure every ingredient placed on the pizza is fine-tuned to perfection.
Tastebud Farm is a new pizza joint, which opened just this spring. The business started on a family farm in Canby, where they grew vegetables and greens that were hard to come by at the grocery store. Eventually, the family partnered with the Portland Farmers Market and set up shop right outside PSU at the weekly event, where they sold salads, as well as bagels and pizza from their wood-fired oven. As their business progressed they became caterers, and now they have opened a dining room on the east side.
The restaurant is charming, with three long communal tables and many flowers, which look beautiful against the creamy colored walls. Outside, there is a lovely patio closed off by trees. It has a very rustic, yet sleek feel to it.
The menu is simple, yet satisfying. It changes often, usually in accordance with the season. The pizzas will have different toppings and the salads will change, as will the deserts. I was impressed with the selections of appetizers, although they are filling enough to be entrees.
Lamb Kafta with squash and onions, clams, peppers and bruschetta, and fava bean falafel with cucumbers and tomatoes are among the best pre-meal offerings. The restaurant also serves wine, beer on tap, Izzie and Jones sodas and San Pellegrino, as well as Stumptown coffee.
However, if you go to Tastebud, you go for the pizza. The pizzas are large, measuring around 16 inches, and always come with copious amounts of toppings, which you add more or less of as you see fit. Order a plain pizza with tomato sauce and cheese, and then add from the menu an assortment of basil, jalapenos, arugula, anchovies, lamb and spicy salami.
Each topping placed on the pizza is treated with olive oil and salt, and they are only placed on the pie before it goes into the oven to ensure maximum flavor and freshness.
Other pizza combinations currently on the menu are basil pesto and goat cheese, roasted peaches with pancetta, mascarpone and arugula, and fennel sausage with fennel bulb.
My sampling was a fantastic pizza with roasted tomato sauce, pancetta, roasted chilies, cilantro and goat cheese, complete with a thin and chewy crust. This combination was unique and had the very distinct, delicious taste that only a wood-fired oven and fresh ingredients can give to a pizza.
The deserts at Tastebud do not disappoint either. They feature a house made ice cream and a few fresh fruit and shortcake creations. It will be exciting to see what new additions the menu will include over the winter months. Any restaurant with a changing menu holds interesting possibilities on a return visit.
I will certainly return, as Tastebud makes it well worth the culinary venture into Southeast Portland.
Tastebud Farm3220 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. (across the street from the Aladdin Theater) Wednesday-Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.