From the moment you pull up to Red Sauce Pizza, Concordia neighborhood’s recently-opened pizzeria, it’s evident that something good has happened. With a newly painted exterior, crisp, white curtains in the windows, and a brightly-lit, purposefully-upside down sign announcing “PIZZA” – it’s apparent that a new business is in operation at this location that has long been home to pizza-making operations. It also announces the owner has made an investment in the neighborhood.
Located at Concordia’s eastern edge on the west side of 42nd Avenue near Old Salt Marketplace, Red Sauce is the brainchild of Shardell “Shar” Dues. Dues has called Portland home for 20 years, and is comfortable in this ‘hood – her most recent employer was New Seasons Concordia, where she worked in the meat department. With Red Sauce, Dues combines her knowledge and love of meat with her passion for pizza to bring soul-satisfying pies to this emerging urban district and its surrounding neighborhood.
Dues is no amateur when it comes to pizza-making – she earned her chef stripes at Apizza Scholls – one of Portland’s most revered pizza eateries. At Apizza Scholls, Dues learned the fine art of pre-fermenting and hand-tossing pizza dough, which makes for a sublime crust that’s crispy and chewy all at once, and perfectly moist inside. Customers often mistake her crust as wood-fired for its texture, but it’s not, Dues says.
“We bake our pies with a 1971 General Electric oven that I bought off of Slabtown bar in NW Portland a year ago. It was completely overhauled by my electrician and best friend Nancy Boyce of Power Tech. It works like a dream and gets hot, hot,hot,” Dues exclaims.
That blistering oven cranks out pie after perfect pie; from plain cheese to creative combos such as pepperoni with pineapple and jalapeno, or pepperoni and house-made chorizo; salami, chili flake, grana and “arooogula,” and another with spinach, goat cheese and red onion. Dues makes her own sausage, too.
The only white sauce pizza offered at Red Sauce is for mushroom aficionados, who will find a piping pie generously loaded with fresh fungi and a slight drizzle of truffle oil that serves to tantalize your taste buds and provides a little aroma-therapy at the same time.
Build-your-own pizza options include toppings such as capicola ham, anchovies, mushrooms and various cheese choices including a jersey cow ricotta.
The names of each pizza were inspired by the loyalty of friends and family who helped Dues get the restaurant ready for business. For example, the “It’s Me, Nummy” is a nod to her Mom, Elaine, who goes by the nickname Nummy.
Since opening, Red Sauce has added lunch on the weekends, and also serves “Ruthless” sandwiches with intriguing names and ingredients, such as the Tony Soprano, with capicola, pepperoni, finnochiona salami, provolone picante, black olives, mama lil’s, pepperoncinis, romaine, oil and vinegar, oregano; and the Uncle Paul, with arooooogula, pommodoracio tomatoes, goat cheese, herbs and kalamata olives.
With a few months under her entrepreneurial belt, Dues is encourage and pleased with the reception.
“It’s been great – busy, busy, busy,” she says. She is appreciative of comments from folks in the neighborhood, too. “They tell us to just keep doing what we’re doing; we get nothing but great feedback from the community.”
Red Sauce is located at 4935 NE 42nd Ave. Hours of operation are Wed. through Sun. from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. , and Fri. through Sun. for lunch from Noon to 3:30 p.m. The restaurant also serves beer and wine. To encourage neighborhood walk-ins, Red Sauce does not take reservations. For more information visit www.redsaucepizza.com or call (503) 288-4899.