Portland's Kerns Kitchen Transforms Pizza into Dessert

[Photographs: Lindsay Strannigan]

I feel that pizza is a hallowed art form and should be treated with the utmost care and precision. So when I heard that Kerns Kitchen, NE Portland's acclaimed pizza destination, was offering a dessert pizza on their new dinner menu, I was equally intrigued and frightened. In other words, I had to try it for myself.

When I took my first bite of Kerns' Apple Pie ($12) , I was pleasantly surprised. The crust is spot on—equal parts chewy and airy, with just the right amount of char. The pie is topped with mascarpone cheese, caramelized apple slices, a house-made bourbon caramel sauce, and dried cherries. The highlight of the dish is the caramelized apples, which are sliced thin and cooked until tender—but not too tender—and are seasoned with just a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon. The mascarpone cheese has a subtle sweetness to it, and the tang of the cheese is the perfect compliment to the sweet apples and dried cherries. (My only complaint? I couldn't taste any bourbon in the bourbon-caramel sauce.)

Last, and certainly not least, it is important to point out that the crust held up very well under the weight of the dessert toppings. The toppings were applied evenly and with a deft hand, and thus the crust wasn't the least bit soggy.

While I've not yet tried the savory pizzas at Kerns, I can only imagine that a slice covered in cheese and red sauce would be equally delicious. If you happen to visit Kerns to try out the pizza, I encourage you to save room for dessert. The Apple 'Pie' is generous in size and is meant to be shared. (Pro Tip: order one for yourself and save the leftovers for a tasty breakfast the next day.)