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For that last meal, go on and have the best pizza in town

by: ©2006 DAVID PLECHL, Don’t look for a second location of Apizza Scholls anytime soon — dough man Brian Spangler can only be in one place at a time.

Constantly going to restaurants has caused me to gain weight, and I've recently realized I have to do something about it before I'm forced to pay for two airplane seats. You know, smaller portions, avoid snacking, more salads, less alcohol, skip dessert, all that dreadful stuff.

Once I decided to do something about it, I also decided I should treat myself before I started the new regimen.

It would be a last supper of sorts, and it was surprisingly easy to choose where to have it. I simply thought about which food I would crave most once I couldn't have it, or have as much of it as I wanted - pizza from Apizza Scholls.

Originally called Scholls Public House and located in Washington County, Apizza Scholls (4741 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., 503-233-1286) moved to its current location in January 2005 and has had a line out the door ever since.

The first time I went to the media and foodie favorite, I hoped I wouldn't like it - because everyone else did. I prefer to stand apart from the teeming masses. But sometimes 'everyone else' is actually right. Apizza Scholls' pizza is better than other pizza, a lot better.

Last week I took my kids along and ordered both the bacon bianca and the meatball pizza for my pre-diet feast. The bianca doesn't have tomato sauce; instead it's dressed with rich Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano cheeses, olive oil, garlic, pepper, sea salt and housemade guanciale (Italian bacon).

The meatball pizza is smothered with tomato sauce, fresh and whole-milk mozzarella, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano and house-made meatballs. The flavorful meatballs have been thinly sliced so as not to weigh down the crust.

The crust is really what makes Apizza Scholls pizza rise above the rest. Cooked in a superhot oven (over 600 degrees), the thin crust is crispy and chewy and the edges are often deliciously charred. The tomato sauce also is superior, not bitter like others, and light and very slightly sweet.

Apizza Scholls will expand soon into the space next door. Owners Kim Nyland and Brian Spangler hope that will happen by the second week in October, 'around the time the patio closes,' Nyland says.

I recently asked Nyland what she thinks of Portland's recent pizza boom. 'We're all for it,' she said. 'We love Cathy (Whims, of Nostrana), and Ken (Forkish, of Ken's Artisan Pizza) is doing nice work. But, you know, we're the engine and they're the caboose.'

I also asked her if they'd ever open a second location, to which she immediately responded: 'No. Brian's too crazy about his dough. He couldn't trust anyone else with it.'

One more thing that sets Apizza Scholls above other pizza places is the service. With such a huge following, one might expect the servers to cop a little attitude. They don't. Instead, they're friendly and accommodating.

Apizza Scholls is open 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Visit www.apizzascholls.com for information.

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Some of you must be wondering where I went for dessert the night before starting my health kick. Papa Haydn for raspberry gateau? Pix Pâtisserie for a tart citron?

No, no. I went to the Dairy Queen on Southeast Division Street across from Franklin High School and ordered an exquisite Peanut Buster Parfait of soft vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and salty peanuts. I couldn't finish it, but it really hit the sweet-tooth spot.

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Quick. Who won the Super Bowl last year? Jerry Fechter can tell you it was the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fechter, co-owner of a popular brew-pub trio (the New Old Lompoc in Northwest Portland, the Fifth Quadrant in North, and the Hedge House in Southeast Portland) grew up a Steelers fan in Pittsburgh.

Because of that, for the past three years, the Hedge House (3412 S.E. Division St., 503-235-2215) has televised all Steelers games. During the games the pub features a special western Pennsylvania menu including pierogi (potato and onion dumplings) and the Primanti, the famous Pittsburgh sandwich that's made with french fries, pastrami and coleslaw. It also offers Pittsburgh's Iron City ale on tap.

Fechter's motivation for airing the Steelers games was simple: 'I wanted a place where I could watch all the Steelers games and call it work.'

The next game is Sunday, Sept. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals. It starts at 10 a.m. so the Hedge House will open at 9:30 a.m.

I'm a Niners fan, but you might see me there eyeing your pierogies while munching celery.

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