#96 Micucci’s Grocery (+ an extra)

June 4th, 2016

Portland, ME

You really don’t know what a “slab” of pizza is until you go up to Portland. When we were on our camping trip last year for Eric’s birthday, we made some day trips into Portland (in between trying to steer our canoe without capsizing and also trying to start a fire with wet wood).

Walking up to Miccuci’s Grocery, we weren’t sure if we were in the right place. The grocery is sort of near the outskirts of downtown and from first glance looks like a regular local Italian market. It sells fresh and dried pastas, homemade sauce, imported olives and specialty goods, and it has a counter for sandwiches and pre-made sides. Everything smelled and looked great, but we didn’t see any pizza.

We walked around the back of the store, though, and we saw these slices. You might think that a “slab” of pizza is the same thing as a “sicilian” slice of pizza (we did). After seeing these slices, though, it is easy to see that they are two totally different types of slice. We think we like “slabs” better.

Micucci’s has a few stools inside to eat your pizza, or else you can take it to go and eat at one of the small tables outside. They generally have only two styles of slab – plain and pepperoni. They don’t take advance orders. The pizzas are made throughout the day, so you always seem to get a fresh slice waiting for you. Sometimes you have to wait a little while for a new pizza to come out of the oven, but we didn’t have to. We got two slabs of cheese, and grabbed seats at the bench.

The crust on these slices is SO fluffy. It is really like a giant slice of freshly baked bread. You’d think that having that much bread would overwhelm the pizza, but that wasn’t the case at all. The sauce steals the show on these slices. So much so that we took home 3 jars of the sauce from the store so that we could use it on our pizza at home. There isn’t too much cheese, either, so the sauce and crust were really the stars here. We loved it.

I was back in Portland this past summer and stopped in again at Micucci’s Grocery, to buy another slab of pizza AND more sauce. While I was in town, I made another stop for another slice at Slab

  

Slab was started by the original baker and creator of the slab at Micucci’s back in 2013.  He was fired from Micucci’s in June of that year, so opened his own restaurant in the Portland Public Market space right downtown. I made it a double-slab day and tried grabbed a slice (a “hand slab”) to take outside.

The two slabs are very similar. This slab was even bigger than the one at Micucci’s and had even more crust, which I actually thought was a bit too much. I didn’t end up finishing it (Eric would have, though). I didn’t think there was enough sauce, and the sauce wasn’t as good as the sauce at Micucci’s.

I don’t know if I’d recommend eating these two slabs back-to-back like I did, but they are both excellent choices if you are in Portland. This was one time when I really wished Eric had been with me because I hated having any part of these two slices go to waste.

To visit:

Micucci’s Grocery
45 India St
Portland, ME 04101

Slab
25 Preble Street Extension
Portland, ME 04101

#80 Otto

June 3rd, 2016

Portland, ME

If you read my last post, we were on our way up to Portland to go camping with our newly acquired canoe. We were slightly worried about driving up to Maine with a canoe on the top of Eric’s little Mazda6 but we made it! The canoe didn’t get stolen when we parked it near Area Four in Cambridge, but then of course, what is a student at MIT going to do with a canoe? It also didn’t fall off or come loose. Probably because we were driving well below 65 mph. We unloaded it at our campsite and set off to explore downtown Portland!

Our first pizza dinner stop was at Otto. Until I saw the logo, I didn’t realize that I had actually been to one of the other locations of the restaurant, in Coolidge Corner, MA. This was a few years before our pizza adventure began, though. We had a short wait (Friday night) but there was a street art fair going on around Portland, so we spent the time wandering around and looking at all of the art that we were definitely not going to buy. We were eventually seated, and the wait paid off because we snagged a great table right by the window.

 

We really loved this place because they have a HUGE selection of great vegetable-based pies. We aren’t vegetarian, but we are pretty healthy eaters, believe it or not. It was really hard to choose a pizza to go with, and we ended up ordering the fresh eggplant, ricotta, and basil. And we also had a slice of the famous mashed potato and bacon while we were waiting.

Question: what are thoughts on eggplant on pizza? We are split on this between the two of us – I will only eat the eggplant if it isn’t breaded. Eric likes it both ways. Usually, when we see eggplant on a pizza as a topping, we assume that it is breaded. Modern is famous for its (breaded) eggplant pizza. In all of my google searching, I couldn’t figure out if this is actually an issue for anyone else? Maybe no one else cares…

In any case, the eggplant on this pizza was fresh, which was unusual. It was delicious because it wasn’t watery and was cooked just the right amount. I imagine this is why people don’t use eggplant much on pizza – because it is hard to get right. The ricotta on this really elevated the pizza to the next level. Anyone who has read this blog before knows how much we love our ricotta. The basil was snipped in strips across the top of the pie, which was also unique but really got the basil flavor in every bite. The crust was slightly salty and the sauce was also very good.

I happened to stop at the slice shop in Cambridge while I was there a few weeks ago with a friend. We tried the mashed potato and bacon slice again, and also a ricotta and basil plain slice. Honestly, the slices didn’t live up to the pizzas at the original location. Maybe because they were reheated. The slices were decently sized for lunch, but the ricotta was a little sparse and the crust didn’t have the same crunch or saltiness that I remembered. We’d recommend just going to one of the sit-down locations and ordering a whole pie.

 

To visit:

Otto
576 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101