Insert this pizza place with marvelous salads into your rotation

With about a dozen locations from Maine, to Canada, to Hawaii, Flatbread Company’s Portland location has the distinction of being the second. With its prime spot on the water, the restaurant serves mainly wood-fired pizza and salads while offering a full bar including an impressive beer list. They also focus on organic ingredients including natural/organic meats. I’d been wanting to go back for a while, so when my wife and I agreed on pizza, Flatbread was our choice.

When I entered, I was reminded that the eatery was particularly large, featuring a sizable bar, chalkboards with specials, and the wood-fired oven. We were seated at a table by the far end of the bar with menus. My wife quickly ordered a Ranga Ranga Sauvignon Blanc, the waitress read the specials from the board, and we got to the business of making decisions about food.

Despite some good looking salads on the menu, I was all about pizza as the main course and wanted to try one of their specialty pies. After about three seconds of thought, I decided I was down for the Carne pizza special – local organic gound beef with local mashed potatoes, organic roasted corn, mozz, parm, and herbs. It was shepherd’s pie on a…umm…pizza pie.

My wife chose the Casco Bay Community Flatbread – Wood-fired cauldron tomato sauce, organic caramelized onions, organic mushrooms, premium whole milk mozzarella and imported parmesan cheese baked on organic bread dough with homemade garlic oil and blend of organic herbs. She threw in the Organic Salad – locally grown organic mesclun and sweet leaf lettuce tossed with organic celery and carrots, toasted sesame seeds, organic arame seaweed and homemade ginger-tamari vinaigrette. I then ordered one for myself and we both passed on blue or goat cheese to go with it.

The restaurant was busy, so the salad didn’t come out super fast, though the wait wasn’t excessive. When we did get it, we only got a single plate, though it was pretty hefty. I wondered if they had combined our order to share. As we started to portion it among ourselves, the waitress came back, offering a salad to the next table and eventually realizing it was actually ours.

We dug into the veg, sharing the first one we received and pushing the second to the side. I took a bite and immediately remembered the magic of the organic salad. Led by the super fresh combination of tasty veggies thoroughly coated in the light dressing, the mildly Asian-themed salad was a superb start to the meal. I reaffirmed my thoughts that it’s one of the best pure veggie salads in town.

Once we finished a single plate of greens, we agreed that a second would be too much while still eating pizza and asked for a box in which to put it. Shortly thereafter, we were provided with the pies. My wife’s looked pretty typical while mine was free of red sauce and speckled in yellow corn. Both were cut into eight non-triangular slices.

I tried my pizza and was quite happy with the way it turned out. The thin crust housed a well thought out concoction. The combination of high quality beef and corn produced a hearty, slightly sweet pie. With the taters, cheese, and herbs, it made for a tasty dinner. If I had one criticism, it was that the bites without beef or corn relied on the mashed potatoes for flavor and I wanted a little more from them. Maybe some extra herbs would have done the trick. Still, it was really solid and a great throwback to my childhood.

Mrs. Portlandeater ate a fair portion of her pizza as I finished all of mine. I tried a piece of hers and enjoyed it. It was certainly not as original as mine, but with the always delicious toppings of caramelized onions and shrooms to go with the other components, it was hard to go wrong. I stuck to only one piece and we boxed up the rest to bring home with our second salad. Our tab ended up in the $50 range.

Flatbread is a popular eatery because it has a lot going for it. It’s in a great location and the food never disappoints. They always have intriguing specials too. I chose the meat pizza but there was a veggie option that looked great and also a salad that was enticing. Add to that the extensive beer choices and a focus on top notch ingredients, and it’s hard to come up with a good reason not to eat there on at least a semi-regular basis. Don’t take my word for it. Try for yourself.

Stay hungry.

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Peter Blanchette

About Peter Blanchette

Peter Peter Portland Eater grew up in Lewiston, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in English. After college, he left the state to work in Massachusetts, but the allure of a more comfortable life in his home state brought him back after eight years. Upon his return and after meeting his now wife – Mrs. Portlandeater, he slowly integrated himself into the Portland food scene by trying as many restaurants as he could afford. That and a desire to write for others again led him to start where he reviews restaurants and blogs about whatever Portland/Maine food topics he finds interesting.