Al Forno Ferruzza is opening a small sit down location on NE Alberta and 28th this week! See Oregonlive.com for a bit more.
This reviewer is head over heels for a pizza from a purple food cart that’s not even technically on the menu. Crusts can truly make or break a pie, or simply do nothing for an already mediocre dining experience. My bar may not be that high for Hammy’s potential late night delivery, but when I read about Sicilian artisan crusts from a SW food cart on Portland Food Carts, the intrigue grew.
Al forno ferruzza is a Sicilian food cart that opened earlier this winter in the PSU area corner of SW 4th and SW College. Amongst a few other food carts in a parking lot, this is the only one that entices me. It’s the type of place you have a warm feeling about while you’re discussing vegan options. There is care and culinary passion in the discussion of your upcoming meal- this cart is out to satisfy. Both of the proprietors take orders and already have my vegan requirements down pat. They’ve even asked me if yeast was vegan!
The menu is small and is made up of pizza, calzones, pasta specials, paninis and bread. While there is actually no vegan pizza on the menu (yet!), simply ask and you’re in for a treat. Pizzas are cooked in a matter of mere minutes, but I would recommend calling ahead if you’re in a rush as there is only one chef. Personal pizzas are $6, with housemade garlic infused olive oil, roasted red peppers, marinated olives, garlic and local basil and rosemary grown by the cart’s proprietors. With spring and summer upon us, there’s hope for the toppings list to expand. Pies are cut into 4 slices, which may not seem like a lot, but I’ve had an extra slice leftover on each visit. It’s a meal that you find yourself enjoying each bite of – a bit of olive, rosemary, and crust; roasted red pepper, basil, repeat. Whole pies are also available at $14.
The crust is truly best freaking pizza crust I have ever had in town. I can’t get over that’s from a food cart by PSU in Portland! I grasp for words to describe it -rustic, light, chewy, thin yet substantial, with perfect bite: it’s everything I was always looking for at once. This is not an experience that calls for fake cheeze or hot sauce – order a side of the housemade tomato sauce to dip your slices into. It’s simple, sweet and made with high quality San Marzano tomatoes.
There have been vegan friendly pasta specials, so be sure to specify no cheese on top if you seen something similar. The cart itself closes for lunch around 2pm when the dough runs out and the lunch hour crowd fizzles. Towards 4pm, they sell handcrafted loaves of Sicilian bread, only one of which is vegan.
While I’ve enjoyed cheeseless and sauceless creations, some may be wary of calling it pizza and think of foccacia. Either way, it’s tops and puts the vegan foccacia slices at Hot Lips to shame. It’s a reminder of just how magnificent fresh bread can taste!
There are sadder aspects of this review: there is only one vegan meal item, no vegan desserts, calzones (which the dough would be perfect for!), pesto and the location itself. There’s little seating in the area, so take your pizza on a stroll to the park blocks or waterfront. PSU students and local workers are in luck, the the downtown lunch crowd does have a walk or bus ride to make it here. Everyone else with a love for pizza has to find a weekday lunch hour free for visiting.
It’s a 15 minute walk from my office in central downtown, but as you can tell, I think it’s well worth the treat.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (yes, even with the one pizza! it would increase if they had more options)
Address: Corner of SW 4th and SW College, parking lot
Open: “lunch time”