BIDDEFORD – Pizza isn’t the product that comes to mind when you think of Maine’s mills. We think paper, shoes and electric blankets.

But pizza is exactly what’s being churned out by Union House Pub & Pizza.

Located on the second floor of the renovated North Dam Mill, Union House has replaced the sounds of machinery with jovial lunch-table conversation and the hunger-inducing scent of pepperoni, onion and cheese.

Pie orders are placed at the front counter, where I found myself struggling to choose between the 12-inch buffalo chicken pizza ($8.95) and the Caprese, with its mozzarella, tomato and basil ($8.50). Or the super Hawaiian, with ham, pineapple, bacon and tomato ($8.95).

Finally, I created my own pizza topping blend of sausage, onion and spinach from the create-your-own section of the menu. The 12-inch cheese pizza starts at $6, and each additional topping costs 75 cents to $1.

Pies come with a bottle of water or can of soda from the nearby cooler.

The dining area is dotted by two-seater tables and longer family-style tables for larger parties — or for smaller parties to share. There’s also a bar/counter.

The dining room walls pay loving tribute to Pabst Blue Ribbon. Paintings in red, white and blue proudly pronounce the letters “PBR” in various fonts and with various backgrounds.

It’s no shock, then, that Union House also serves beer and wine. Mixed drinks are available from the semi-full bar, as are “killer margaritas,” according to another patron.

But while Union House uses former mill space, this isn’t assembly-line pie. Each pizza is made to order, as evidenced by the gentleman seen tossing a fresh disc of dough into the air behind the counter.

That kind of preparation, and the fact that Union House can be busy, means that you might have some time to kill between “order” and “eat.” I passed the wait with conversation and a can of Pepsi. At another table, a family played a game of cards.

For folks in a lunch-hour rush, or who find eating pizza on the run is a messy endeavor, Union House offers a lunch menu from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Choose from deli sandwiches such as a BLT ($5.75), ham or turkey club ($6.50), or veggie sandwich on a toasted baguette ($5.95).

There are also whole wheat wraps that come with a bag of chips and range in price from a $5.95 veggie to a $6.75 Greek.

If your heart is set on pizza — and who can blame you, with Union House’s thin crust and crispy rim — you can call ahead and dine in or carry out to minimize the wait time.

“We didn’t even know this place was in here,” I heard a woman say to the young lady behind the counter. She’s likely glad to know that North Dam Mill is turning out fresh pie — in addition to what the other businesses there have to offer.

And it’s a good thing. Paper never tastes quite as good as made-to order-pizza.

 

The features staff of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.