Entertainment

Portland-area pizzeria (no, not that one) named one of America’s best

Hapa Pizza, the Beaverton pizzeria known for its Asian-inspired toppings, was named one of the 22 best pizzerias in the United States by the New York Times on Tuesday.

In a text message, co-owner Aaron Truong called Hapa’s appearance on the list a “huge honor,” while saying he hoped he didn’t “put too much emphasis on it.”

“I feel like we still have a lot to learn and improve, so we’ll just keep getting better,” he wrote.

The Times’ list includes a very diverse mix of pizzerias both in terms of cuisine (Neapolitan pies are represented, as are those inspired by Cleveland and Bangladesh) and geography (locations range from Berkeley to Baltimore to Mountain Brook, Ala.). Some of America’s best-known pizzerias (Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Roberta’s in Brooklyn) sit alongside modern hits (Pizzeria Sei in Los Angeles, Young Joni in Minneapolis) and lesser-known finds (Leña Pizza in Cleveland – which is not not the Cleveland-style place – and Bird Pizza in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is).

Even so, our readers might find it refreshing to see another pizzeria land on a national list after Ken’s Artisan Pizza seemed to rack up all the awards last year. Speaking of which, the Top 50 Pizza organization plans to announce its 2024 picks for America, which last year included Ken’s (304 SE 28th Ave.) at No. 3 Apizza Scholls (4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd. .) at No. 20 and Nostrana. (1401 SE Morrison St.) at No. 29, during a ceremony Tuesday evening.

The Oregonian first wrote about Hapa Pizza in 2022, when we found food industry newcomers Aaron and Natalie Truong cooking their pizzas in the Gozney Roccbox ovens in the backyard of the Beaverton Farmers’ Market . Although the calling card is phở-style braised brisket pizza with hoisin and bean sprouts, we were just as impressed with the simple cheese pie, which already ranked among the best pizzas in Beaverton.

The pizzeria started as an “impulse buy,” Aaron told us then, after spotting an online fundraiser for the Roccbox, one of several new countertop pizza ovens capable of cooking with searing heat. After several tasty experiments — with the help of “The Elements of Pizza,” the influential pizza book by former Ken’s Artisan Pizza owner Ken Forkish — an “aha” moment came when Aaron made a pie bulgogi for a group of friends. These friends quickly encouraged the Truongs to turn professional.

In 2023, we named Hapa one of the best new pizzerias in the metro area. That year, the Truongs opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant (they continue to operate their Saturday farmers’ market stall). Last month, Eater PDX reported that the duo planned to expand with The Collab, a bar and dedicated pop-up space next to their pizzeria that will host local snack and dessert vendors.

Hapa, which the Truongs consider an expression of their “experience of growing up as Asian Americans and being a hybrid of several cultures,” takes its name from the Hawaiian word for “half and half.” , a term “used colloquially to refer to people who are half Asian and half white,” explained Aaron Truong. “It’s a fitting name for the type of pizza we make,” he said. “Because it’s a mix of two different cultures, Italian and Asian.”

One of the hallmarks of pizza is how sweet beef, bean sprouts, and other things that might seem strange as pizza toppings end up being delicious when you try them on a Hapa pie. Or, as the New York Times puts it, “Mr. Truong manages to get a lot of pizza without it seeming gimmicky or overstuffed.” » Agreed.

Visit Hapa Pizza for lunch Wednesday through Friday and dinner Wednesday through Saturday at 12755 SW Broadway St., Beaverton; or Saturday morning at the Beaverton Farmers Market; hapapizza.com.

—Michael Russell; mrussell@oregonian.com

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