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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Pizza, Modern
Casual restaurant

Wed–Sun 5:00pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Northeast Portland
711 NE Dekum St.
Portland, OR
(503) 954-1702
Wood-fired meats and pizzas in a feel-good brick space

As you can guess from the name, Firehouse is situated in a converted fire station of red brick with terrific, almost Art-Deco charcoal-colored designs on its face. Inside, exposed wood beams and the glowing hearth of a brick pizza oven are rustic touches, and a garden out back grows whatever ingredients the kitchen can use. The atmosphere is just terrific; people return faithfully, it seems, for the ambience alone. The walls are covered with black and white photos of old firemen.

Waits can get long, as the space is pretty small. Service can be clumsy, but it’s also friendly and familial; can you get mad when your Aunt Joan spills wine on your purse? (No, but she can offer to comp it.)

That wood-fired brick oven is used to good effect, making a thin, golden crust with some nice blackish blisters. This authentically Italian-style pizza gets sparse toppings of great quality, as is custom, and the effect is spot on with a melting middle. San Marzano tomatoes impart an earthy sweetness, and homemade sausage is fennely and spectacular.

Pizzas are the highlight, but they form the mere minority of the menu. Cherry peppers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies are a good appetizer, but grow tiresome if not shared; hanger steak is cooked properly to temperature, but is underseasoned; and fried cauliflower with lemony crème fraîche is a rare treat in town. The wood oven is also used quite successfully for Coho salmon, mussels, and rotisserie chicken. Some dishes feel more worthwhile than others, but in a group of three or more, you can try a good variety and have a terrific time for relatively little money.

There are some very able-bodied beers on draft, and more microbrews and British ales in bottle, and a Belgian framboise, all at wonderfully low markups. A very succinct wine list is resourceful and smart, with bargain-priced Old World bottles that are better made than many more expensive wines out there.

If the photographs on these walls speak to a sense of nostalgia and a reverence for dedication, then Firehouse follows through on that promise in the kitchen, too.

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