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Two new tastes

Milwaukie: New restaurants open downtown, and on McLoughlin
by: Ellen Spitaleri,  Joshua Welch, right, twirls pizza dough high in the air at Flying Pie Pizzeria on McLoughlin Boulevard, near Les Schwab.

If you've been longing for some southern-style Mexican food or specialty pizza, you're in luck. Cha Cha Cha, a Mexican eatery in downtown Milwaukie, and Flying Pie Pizza, on SE McLoughlin Boulevard next door to Les Schwab, are both open for business.

The two establishments are owned by local residents; Cha Cha Cha co-owners Carmen and Brian Meyer live in Milwaukie, while Flying Pie's Joshua Welch and Ty DuPuis reside in the Gladstone area.

And both restaurants are offshoots of namesake hot spots in other Metro area locations - Cha Cha Cha is located in six other places, including Sellwood, and Flying Pie has outposts in Lake Oswego, on S.E. Stark in Portland, and in Gresham.

Cha Cha Cha

The paper came off the windows and Cha Cha Cha opened on Valentine's Day.

Customers have told the Meyers that they are happy the restaurant has opened and they both feel they have been welcomed in Milwaukie.

Owner Carmen Meyer describes the dishes as 'traditional Mexican,' cooked in the style of Cuernavaca, where she used to live.

'The enchilada plates are popular,' Brian Meyer said, adding that the 'customers like the size of the chimichangas.'

Another specialty of Cha Cha Cha is the mole sauce that Carmen Meyer said contains '100 seeds and spices, imported from Mexico.' The sauce is a mixture of 'chocolate and different kinds of chilies,' she said.

The mole enchiladas are filled with carnitas, chicken or veggies smothered in mole sauce and served with rice, for $6.50.

Carmen Meyer recommends Pacifico ceviche, a dish made with prawns cooked and simmered in a house cocktail sauce mixed with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and slices of avocado.

Cha Cha Cha offers a variety of tacos and seafood, meat and vegetarian burritos; most popular is the Cha, a burrito made from ground beef slow cooked with almonds, raisins, olives and potatoes, served with sour cream, noted Brian Meyer.

Renovations

The Meyers have been working on the interior of Cha Cha Cha for months to get the space put together in just the right way.

They discovered the original wood floor under layers of vinyl and refinished that, and painted the walls a warm terra cotta.

Customers order at the counter and seat themselves. Servers give diners cheerful placemats and meals are served quickly on colorful pottery dishes, the hues reminiscent of the Southwest.

There are daily specials on the board that may include a tortilla soup or a tamale plate.

Most dinner plates are $6.50 and many come with rice and beans; and there is a children's menu for $3.

Cha Cha Cha boasts a full bar serving margaritas, tequilas and beer.

Vegetarian options include salads, including the Cha salad with cactus strips, chile rellenos and vegetarian burritos, served with rice and beans.

Chips come with house-made pico de gallo, the guacamole is freshly prepared and black beans are available on request.

Carmen Meyer's cousins, who started the first Cha Cha Cha in Portland, came up with the name, she said, adding 'They wanted something catchy and easy to say.'

For the Milwaukie location, she said, 'We wanted to do what we do in Sellwood. We have support from our families and customers have been receptive - we are happy to be here.'

Cha Cha Cha is located at 1108 SE Main in Milwaukie. They're online at www.chaportland.com

Flying Pie

You are going to need computer access to flying-pie.com, because there is simply not enough room here to describe the diverse offerings of this 'old school' pizza place.

Co-owner Joshua Welch may describe the new restaurant as 'old school,' but there are plenty of modern-day touches to make diners happy.

First of all, manager Tom Miller said the 'ginormous amount of toppings' set Flying Pie apart, and here the restaurant's Web site comes in handy.

The 33 toppings are organized into three categories: meat, vegetables and specialty items.

Meats include everything from American bacon to smoked ham; vegetables range from black olives to zucchini; and specialty choices run the gamut, including anchovies and smoked oysters.

Co-owner Ty DuPuis noted that 'the real Italian sausage is made from our own recipe by a manufacturer in Chicago,' while the pepperoni, linguica and salamis are made in true Italian style in San Francisco.

He added that the sauce recipe is a secret blend of three different types of tomato sauces with added spices - including real, fresh-minced garlic, not a powder.

And then there is the crust, which DuPuis said can be 'of any thickness,' ranging from extra thick to extra thin.

'The dough is also our own recipe and we hand throw every pizza - part of it is for show, for the kids,' DuPuis said.

The restaurant's cheese blend includes mozzarella, provolone and Romano, and customers can also order 'soy cheese from a local company, with no cholesterol and one gram of fat,' he noted.

Prices for whole pies range from $13.10 for a basic, 12-inch pizza to $29.95 for the 18-inch combo supreme, which will feed five to six people.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, Flying Pie offers a lunch special cheese pizza slice for $3, to which customers may add per item.

'The slice is huge, like three normal slices,' Welch added.

The other lunch special, for $5.95, consists of a side salad, slice of cheese pizza, a bread stick and a soda.

Community important

Both Welch and DuPuis said they are 'excited' to be opening a pizza spot so close to where they live, and are anxious to attract families and provide them with good customer service and 'the best pizza they ever had,' Welch added.

'We are really involved with the community and sponsor teams, take part in fundraisers and auctions and hold fundraiser nights for schools,' DuPuis said.

Flying Pie opened last Monday, March 10, but 'the buzz has been circulating,' during the renovation, with people pulling into the parking lot to check on the progress of the restaurant, Welch said.

DuPuis added, 'We've had people at a fever pitch.'

Flying Pie Pizzeria is located at 16691 SE McLoughlin Blvd. They're online at www.flying-pie.com, and can be reached at 503-496-3170.