Phantom Gourmet: Pizza At Portland Pie Company

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READING – There are plenty of pizzerias that offer variety when it comes to toppings. But there’s only one pizza place that offers your choice of four flavors of dough: basil-infused dough, wheat-based dough, garlic-flavored, even one brewed with beer.

And that’s why they say “It’s all about the dough”, at the Portland Pie Company.

“Portland Pie is a pizza restaurant. That’s our specialty; gourmet pizza we call it. We make all of our own dough, and that’s really what we pride ourselves on,” said Director of Operations Dan Thomson.

The story of Portland Pie dates back to 1997.

“Started with an 800 square foot takeout and delivery pizza location on India Street in Portland, Maine,” General Manager Josh Stevens said. “Approximately six years ago decided to expand into a full service restaurant, and this is our sixth location.”

The latest and greatest Portland Pie restaurant is now open in Reading, Massachusetts. There’s tons of room, plenty of seating, and lots and lots of eating.

“We’re a 6,200 square foot restaurant with a 188 seats. We’ve got three dining rooms and a separate pub,” Stevens described.

“The pub, there’s higher tables, big screen TVs. It’s a little bit louder in there; a lot of people enjoying microbrews,” added Thompson.

With the four flavored doughs, four sizes available, and up to thirty toppings, there are literally millions of pizza possibilities. But the specialty pies are the “Maine” attraction, as Dan Thomson explains.

“All of our pizzas and sandwiches are named after Maine points of interest. So you have the Moosehead pizza which is named after Moosehead Lake, or the Mount Katahdin, which is a pizza, after a mountain in Maine. We’re actually running out of names at this point; we’ve named just about everything.”

There’s the cheeseburger-inspired Crescent Beach Pizza topped with ketchup, American cheese, ground beef and chopped lettuce. The Harbor Master bursts with barbecue chicken and caramelized onions. If you’re a Buffalo Wing lover, you can order them on the bone as an appetizer, or try the Nor’Easter Pizza packed with plenty of chicken and a swirl of Frank’s hot sauce, with a sprinkle of chopped celery on the side. For the Chinese food aficionado, Thompson says try the Chamberlain pizza.

“It’s definitely got a very Chinese food kick to it. We start with a base of General Tsao’s sauce and then we add green bell peppers and red bell peppers, sesame seeds and fresh cilantro. So it’s a little Asian flare on pizza.”

Then there’s the Red Claw Pizza, featuring Maine’s favorite food.

“Well, I come from Boothbay Harbor you know, where the lobster was coming right off the boat,” Thompson explained. “So we start with a base of spinach and artichoke dip and then we add fresh lobster and scallions. The spinach and artichoke dip definitely makes the pizza a lot creamier, compliments the lobster very well.”

You can also order lobster sliders, served on fresh-baked focaccia, or an over-stuffed toasted pocket, made with their signature pizza dough.

“The pockets are made by just taking a dough ball and putting it in the oven. It blows the dough ball up and then we cut it in half and then you can stuff it with the sandwich,” Thompson described.

Dessert options include a crunchy Apple Crisp Pizza baked with cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar, and a towering triple layer Chocolate Lasagna topped with toffee and chocolate glaze.

“The chocolate lasagna is one of our most popular desserts,” said Thompson. “It’s made by Snow Flour Bakery in Scarborough, Maine. It’s six layers of chocolate, drizzled with chocolate. People just go crazy over it.”

If you’re still hungry for more, you can buy a few bags of their flavored doughs to go, so you can come up with some even crazier concoctions in your own kitchen.

But if you want to leave it to the experts, just sit down, grab a slice, and take a sip, at the Portland Pie Company.

You can find the latest Portland Pie location at 54 Haven Street in Reading, or online at portlandpie.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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