Everything you’ve read about Flatbread is true. It is earnest. It is cozy. It is delicious. Imagine the mines of Moria populated with patchouli-scented dwarves stoking the fire, crafting simple food from local ingredients, plus long lists of wine and beer. From our table near the wood-fired clay oven and all the attending cords, we had a lovely view of a ferry to somewhere, hopeful harbor lights and a gentle intimation of black water dancing in the dark. The service was prompt, attentive but not interfering. The company was cheery and the crowd companionable. Hand painted flags adorn bare brick walls and hang jauntily from the rafters. Someone should be playing acoustic guitar. In fact, I think that happens on Mondays. We walked in honestly not expecting much and left round and rosy, really happy that we went.
My salad was a revelation. I am not even exaggerating. It’s totally sublime. Baby spinach, golden beets sweet as heliotropism itself, goat cheese that isn’t too rank and tangy – you know how goat cheese can be, with an orange-hued Japanese-inspired dressing, all gingery and delicious. I want to live inside it, or at least, very nearby. But I had to set it aside when the pizza arrived. One of the Pippi little pie makers discretely dropped it without fanfare on the corner of our square table. Amorphous, charred, cut into strips and triangles, and glistening, it immediately looked right. And not what I expected from a flatbread. You know my biases run deep. Wooster Street pizza snobs do not convert easily.
And while my local gods are still in their rightful place, I will be attending the church of Flatbread on many feasting days in the future. My husband is a sauce man while I love the cheese, and both of us were equally satisfied. These ingredients work in harmony, perfect complements, neither one overpowering the other, much like Malcolm and I (slow nod). At first I recognized the fresh milky mozzarella, later in the tasting the nutty notes of Parmesan alighted on my tongue. And with every bite the basil was clear as a mineral bell. This pizza feels completely fresh, constructed with purity of heart, then cooked quickly with elemental sincerity: air and earth and fire. You watch them being formed. And their form is so gorgeous. The crust itself soft, pliable, ever so gently happening in your mouth. We ate all but the last two pieces.
With no regrets, or complaints, or criticism we plan to return again and again. I hear the homemade pepperoni is so worth having. By the way, we ordered Jay’s Heart. The ambiance is absolutely charming. Whether you care about organic produce and supporting local farmers, I don’t see how you couldn’t be warmed on a cold Commercial Street night surrounded by chalkboard stylings, amber lighting and un-Tolstoyan families. It’s a place you want to be. With food you relish eating. And lots of cool beverages. I feel a little giddy. I apologize. It was such an unexpected surprise. That’s so Portland. Just when you’re feeling cranky and on the outs, she admits you into her lovely society. It isn’t a secret at all. You just have to be ready for initiation. Flatbread, fuck yeah.