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I was only 13 when Joan Jett wrote her signature song “I Hate Myself for Loving You” but I am fairly certain she was writing about the visit I would make to Apizza Scholls a mere 23 years later. You see the other night was my third visit to Apizza Scholls. My previous two visits both started with a craving for pizza and the promise of a great pie but ended with being told by the staff at Apizza Scholls that they were out of dough! Out of dough! Excuse my refined New York English dialect but, what the fuck does that mean. In 36 years I have never walked into a pizza place only to be told they were out of dough. So it should be no surprise that I had a lot of reasons to hate Apizza Scholls.
My best friend from the age of 4 (a fellow New Yorker) happens to live in Portland, Oregon. I told him I was going to come down for a visit and come hell or high water I was finally going to eat at Apizza Scholls. I got down to Portland by 3 o’clock and we decided we would head to Apizza Scholls by 5 PM to ensure we got in. Well believe it or not by 5 PM there was already a sizeable line. We waited for about 15 minutes before they opened the doors. As the flood of people went inside the restaurant it became apparent we would not be seated right away. Sure enough when we finally pushed our way through the door we were told we there would be an hour or so wait until we were seated. Luckily Apizza Scholls has a fairly open floor plan with some window seats at the front of a restaurant and a bar right along the left wall. So despite the fact that I was now further annoyed by the amount of time I invested in this restaurant, two strong beers and a comfortable seat subdued my anger.
After an hour we were finally seated. There were four of us eating and we settled on two pizzas. We ordered a classic Margherita and a Bacon Bianca. Despite the long wait, the service at Apizza Scholls was actually quite good. A waiter arrived at our table shortly after we were seated and when we asked his opinion on what pizzas to order he provide some valid insight. Additionally it was less then 20 minutes from when we ordered until we got our pizzas which was a nice surprise.
So at the end of the day perhaps all that matters is how the pizza tasted. Well to refer back to the title, I hate to say it but I LOVED the pizza. I started with the Margherita pizza. The crust is hard to describe. It is like someone took a really fine French bread and wrapped it in a pizza crust. It folded like a slice of new york pizza, it was chewy and there was a slight amount of char. But it also had this bready airiness to it. That crust is truly a marvel and it made me really reevaluate how good I was at making my own dough. The rest of the Margherita was also delicious. The pizza had a very good sweet and savory sauce, and nice creamy salty topping of cheese. The Bianca was equally good. I am not normally a fan of white pizzas but the bacon on this pizza gave it such a nice smoky and salty flavor. It wouldn’t normally be my pick of the litter but I could have eaten that pizza all night long.
After we finished the pizza I sat with my long time friend and we discussed the merits of Apizza Scholls and the verdict is complicated. The pizza is fantastic and I think we both agreed that if we could pick any pizza to eat in Portland it would be Apizza Scholls. However we both struggled with how pretentious Apizza Scholls is. It goes against everything we grew up with. A pizza place is supposed to be a place that offers cheap great food, is accessible to all people, rarely requires waiting, is offered for lunch and dinner, and usually is offered to go. I know some people might say we are nitpicking by judging things other than the pizza, but I would counter that those people don’t really understand New York pizza. It isn’t just about a great food. It is about a great food in a great atmosphere. I am happy to say Apizza Scholls makes great food, but the atmosphere leaves something to be desired. Will I be back? Most definitely. Do I recommend you go? Certainly. Do I wish they would open all day and always offer pizzas to go? Hell yeah. Do I hate myself for loving Apizza Scholls? You know it!