A recent USA TODAY article ranked Pisano's Woodfired Pizza best in Oregon, based on the opinions of TripAdvisor diners. The list was curated by taking "into account the ratio and quality of pizzeria reviews compared to overall ratings, along with quality and quantity of reviews received in the past year (ending September 2018). Featured restaurants have a minimum of 4 out of 5 bubbles, 100 reviews and 10 locations or less as of September."
- Lisa Sipe
- Above, Ed Barbeau follows artisan traditions for authentic Neapolitan pizza, including the use of a stone oven with a wood fire. Below, The Margherita pizza is steeped in tradition but other menu items are playful, like the Filet Mignon pizza with roasted Maui onion, spicy wine reduction, roasted garlic and mozzarella.
There are different styles of pizza in the United States, including Chicago deep dish, New York-style thin crust, Detroit-style thick crust square pizza (the shape originating from using auto industry parts trays as pans) and St. Louis-style cracker thin crust cut into squares—but Pisano's Woodfired Pizza is none of those. Owner Ed Barbeau makes authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, which he learned from a chef in Naples, Italy.
To be an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, according to The True Neapolitan Pizza Association (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana), it needs to be made with ingredients from the Campania region, including San Marzano or Roma tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. The dough, made from water, salt, yeast and flour, includes special preparation and ferments for a few hours or a few days. Barbeau cold-ferments his dough for 36 hours. The pizza is sparingly covered in toppings because it's baked in a wood-burning oven. Too many toppings result in either a burned or undercooked pie. "Every ethnic food is better with traditions," said Barbeau, "and we follow them—with the handling of the dough and the ingredients we can source are as identical as I can make them in the States."
I ordered two of the simplest pizzas on the menu: the Margherita with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and flaked parmigiano and the Bianco with creamy alfredo sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, roasted garlic, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and flaked parmigiano. Both pizzas were small when compared to some of the over-the-top sizes served in Bend, but Neapolitan standards require the pizza to be between 11.8 and 13.77 inches. The tomatoes on the Margherita were tart and sweet and the crust was flavorful with crispy edges and a soft interior. Because the toppings are spare, it was easy to pull an entire piece of mozzarella in one bite and be left with a half-naked slice.
That's why I ordered the simplest pizza; when you get down to tomato and crust there's no place to hide. The crust has to be delicious. The Bianca pizza was my favorite. The rich cheeses flowed between creamy and tart and the saltiness from the parmigiano intensified all the flavors.
If you're gluten free, you can still order pizza. Barbeau's wife has Celiac Disease and he spent 10 years developing the dough recipe. This is unique because pizzerias often order frozen gluten-free crusts. Pisano's is made from scratch; just ask for it.
- Lisa Sipe
Barbeau was a private investigator for 30 years before opening Pisano's. He remembered the joy of making pizza when he was younger and had always wanted to open a restaurant. Pisano's opened 13 years ago in Northwest Crossing. Barbeau was serving New York-style pizza then because he couldn't have a wood-fired oven. Now in the Tumalo location, there's plenty of indoor seating and the patio is popular in the summer. There's also an outdoor pizza oven on the patio, where Barbeau says he'll be serving pies come summer.
If you visit for lunch Monday through Friday between noon and 3 p.m., order the special—a small pizza and Italian salad for $9. Specialties include house-made cheesecake, and Thursday nights feature fresh lasagna with house-made pasta.
Barbeau also offers pizza-making classes Monday nights. The evening includes wine, appetizers, your own pizza and recipes. Classes are $75 per person with a six-person minimum and advance reservation.
The best pizzeria in Oregon award is new for Pisano's, but this isn't Barbeau's first award. He frequently competes in pizza competitions, taking first place in 2016 in the Western region and 2018 in the Northwest region for the non-traditional division in the International Pizza Challenge. Barbeau is passionate about pizza, saying, "I love this more than anything I've done in my life."