What was First Friday like before Otto Pizza? I shudder to think. Queuing up for a slice (or two, or three) is integral to Portland’s monthly art walk for me.

Otto Pizza is a First Friday Art Walk must

Otto Pizza is a First Friday Art Walk must

It goes like this: Leave the office at 5 pm. Stroll through Whitney Art Works and MECA. Check out what’s at Space. Pop into Otto and grab a slice. Devour it while ambling over to Portland Museum of Art. Peruse the first-floor special exhibit. Stop for a martini at Norm’s. Continue on to a few West End galleries. Settle in for a beer at Blue and listen to some music. Pop into Otto again (they are open until 2 am!) for another slice (or two). Go home.

I’m tellin’ ya, it is the perfect Friday evening. And the visits to Otto are a critical part.

I love standing in the tiny alcove of a pizzeria, enveloped by the smell of baking dough, and peering over Adam’s shoulder at the pie options displayed in an orderly row. The four nightly choices are always yummy and interesting —  sweet Italian sausage with roasted red pepper; spinach, feta, plum tomato and Genoa salami;  mushrooms, caramelized onions and fontina cheese;  sliced potatoes with scallions, bacon and fresh herbs.

I could go on.

Thin with a crispy crust and oily overtones (in the good, NYC-style way), Otto’s pies are just what Portland needed on Congress street in the heart of the Arts District. Give my itinerary a try next month. Or, comment back with your own First Friday food agenda (or Otto Pizza story)!

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