May 30, 2010

Taste & Tell: Enzo Pizzeria serves slices of manna from heaven


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Bartender Rebeca Collado pours a beer at Enzo Pizzeria in Portland. In addition to the classic Margherita, popular pies include mashed potato pizza with bacon and scallions, and butternut squash pizza with ricotta and cranberries.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


ENZO PIZZERIA, 576A Congress St., Portland. 772-9435;

RATING: *****

HOURS: Open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; until 12:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday

CREDIT CARDS: Visa, Mastercard and Discover

PRICE RANGE: $3 to $18.25


GLUTEN-FREE: Spelt-flour dough is under investigation, so ask



BAR: Wine and Gritty's, Birra Moretti and Harpoon IPA on tap


BOTTOM LINE: Crisp and savory thin-crust pizza with toppings held to a minimum showcase the transformation of flour, water, oil and sauce into a reason for living.

Rating based on a five-star scale. It is the policy of the Maine Sunday Telegram to visit an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory.

From 2001 to 2009, Allen was a restaurant dealer and a commercial broker. "I've seen a lot of restaurant ideas. Otto and Enzo are a culmination of everything I've learned," he said.

You can order a $3 slice and sit down at Enzo to enjoy it with a drink. You can also add the salad ($3), plain and simple with a simple vinaigrette and fresh romaine and arugula the night I tried it.

A first taste of the individual pies ($16.50 to $18.25) at Enzo got me worried that the toppings were getting too heavy, but a later visit showed off the perfect balance, with red sauce and slices of juicy sausage and sweet onion scattered on top of blackened, crunchy manna from heaven.

The menu listed "homemade dessert," but "they haven't really gotten around to it," one server said.

Something about the server's patient, quiet presence on a Sunday night, when this end of Congress Street is as sleepy as a Neapolitan back alley after the midday meal, gives the little pizzeria the feeling of being old.

Maybe that's because what's being made here is as old as the first flour mills set by a river and the first stretched, blackened flat bread of the world.

When you figure out how to do it right, you come up with some ancient fundamentals of satisfaction.

As a character says in a book by Penelope Fitzgerald, "We can go on exactly like this for the rest of our lives."




N.L. English is a Portland freelance writer and the author of "Chow Maine: The Best Restaurants, Cafes, Lobster Shacks and Markets on the Coast." Visit English's website,


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