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When it comes to pizza, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy called Portland one of the "top 10 underrated cities in America" — but maybe his taste-tests last week will change that.
Portnoy visited Maine last week to film segments for his popular “One Bite Pizza Reviews," and said he liked at least one pie he tried in Portland.
The reviews and other content are published by Barstool Sports on its social media channels and website, which have become a staple of sports journalism and pop culture since Barstool launched 20 years ago in Massachusetts. National media have described the digital publisher as "the bible of bro culture," and Portnoy's company has been valued at over $500 million. He is a native of Swampscott, Mass.
But in Portland, he was just another pizza enthusiast, with some frank feedback on the pies he tried.
Monte’s Fine Foods, at 788 Washington Ave., was at the top of Portnoy's list. Monte's makes Roman-style pizza. The menu includes Pinsa Romana, a multigrain, slow-cold-fermented, par-baked flatbread. The Monte's version includes split flour from Maine Grains in Skowhegan. The Roman bakery-style pizza is thin-crusted and made in long sheets. The shop is also a bakery and market, but according to Portnoy, the pizza is a must and received a score of 8.4 out of 10. “I love it, I love it,” said Portnoy.
“This is great, the sauce is great and a crunch that is out of this world.”
Since the video came out last week, Monte’s says it's experiencing unprecedented demand for pizza and is taking steps to make more.
“We were overwhelmed this past weekend, selling out early both Saturday and Sunday,” Monte’s said in a social media post last week. “To those of you we disappointed, we are sincerely sorry and have increased pars to meet demand.”
Belleville, at 1 North St., opened its doors in 2017. The bakery focuses on laminated pastries and pizza.
The bakery received the second-highest score of 7.7.
“Is it as good as Monte’s? No, but it's very good. My second favorite pizza so far, probably in Portland,” said Portnoy.
Pizzaiolo, at 360 Cumberland Ave., sells New York-style pies and slices, plus meatball subs and salads.
The pizza received a score of 7.5.
“It was great exposure for the state of Maine,” said owner Pat Scally. “It is what it is. I think we should’ve gotten an 8 or 8.5. But it was a fair score for what we put out that day. I believe that some people rated higher than they should have. But it wasn’t our best day and we are responsible for the score.”
OTTO Pizza, known for its mashed potato pie, has opened its 11th location in Maine in Biddeford in May.
The pizza received a score of 7.1.
“I was expecting higher because I know these are all over the place, so the original location, I figured, would be unbelievable. It’s a 7.1. It’s OK.” said Portnoy.
Flatbread Co. is at 72 Commercial St. in Portland. The restaurant was founded in 1998. It has wood-fired pizzas made in traditional clay ovens. The pizzas are made with organic ingredients and free-range meats.
The wood-fired pizza received a score of 6.8.
The Flatbread review took a turn when a family invited Portnoy to do the review from their boat, which turned out to be a former lobster boat.
“Good needs a little more crisp,” said Portnoy. “When you have a thin pizza, you need it to be crispy.”
“We are always grateful for people to try us out because we believe in our product and love what we do,” said Amy Marchessault, managing partner of Flatbread Co.
“We felt fortunate to have been included on Barstool's list of places to try, especially as the only wood-fired establishment that was reviewed. It's great that it was done on a boat, paying homage to our unique location on Casco Bay. We have had a few customers mention they were coming in because of the review and had to try it out for themselves."
Slab Sicilian Street Food, at 25 Preble St., offers pizza, 20 rotating craft beer selections, wines and cocktails. Slab is most known for the "slab,” which are thick slices of Sicilian pizza offered as a meat wedge, a vegetarian wedge, or a vegan cauli wedge.
It received a score of 6.6.
Micucci Grocery is at 45 India St. and serves up Sicilian-style, thick-dough pizza. Portnoy admitted he's not a big fan of that style and likes the Roman style better because it tends to be crisper.
Miccuci came in at the bottom of the ranking with a score of 6.4.
“We appreciate his interest in our store,” a staff member told Mainebiz. “We were very happy that he came and we wish we had been here. We appreciate that he came and appreciate his interest. We think that he spoke really highly of our business. We know it is not his style of pizza, but our group of people here who do like it have been coming for many years. We are happy that he came and did it and we are happy with our results.”
Now it's your turn to conduct a pizza tour like Portnoy and see which spot is your favorite. Here are a few local spots to try.
Coletti's Pizza Factory is in Biddeford, at 497 Elm St. If you would like to try Neapolitan-style pizza made fresh every day with all-natural ingredients, then this is the place to go.
Pizza by Alex, at 93 Alfred Road in Biddeford. The pizza shop has been a local icon for over 50 years, serving Greek-style personal pizzas.
Michael's Pizza, at 12 Common St. in Saco, has been in the same location since 1966, and is a family-owned enterprise serving original recipes.
Portland Pie, which was founded in 1997, is known for its signature flavored dough, including basil, beer, garlic and wheat. They have locations in Portland, Biddeford, Brunswick, Waterville, Westbrook, Scarborough, Windham and Falmouth.
Oysterhead Pizza, at 189 Main St. in Damariscotta, is known for its wood-fired pizza and small plates.
When Pigs Fly Pizzeria is at 460 U.S. Route 1 in Kittery. The restaurant has wood-fired pizza, appetizer plates, craft beers and craft wine. It is also home to the When Pigs Fly company store, which offers classic and artisan bread and other products.
Evergreen Lanes Featuring the Rendezvous Restaurant is at 60 Access Highway in Caribou. The bar-restaurant says it has the largest television in Maine. Evergreen Lanes is a bowling alley, but it brought in features from the former Rendezvous restaurant, including pizza recipes and the former Limestone restaurant's iconic sign.
What were your thoughts on the Barstool Sports ranking? The Mainebiz Food Insider wants to know! Contact Alexis Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org.