He played lead baker at Thomas Keller’s famed Per Se for over two years, made some noise at New York’s legendary Sullivan Street Bakery, and has hit more high notes as head baker at Portland’s growing Grand Central Bakery empire since 2011. Now, after 18 years in in the bread biz, Sean Coyne is taken his talents (and wood-fired pizza dream) to 3060 SE Division St.

His 43-seat Pizza Maria is set to open May 28 next door to the new branches of Bollywood Theatre and Koi Fusion. Here are three reasons to be excited.

THE PIZZA

For the past month, Coyne has been test-driving ideas in a Mugnaini wood-fired oven in the back of Pizza Maria’s compact space. His style borders on the Neapolitan, and he cares about the kinds of things that haunt all obsessives: structural integrity, the right amount of blister and char, and the tricky art of natural fermentation. Heat is his game, with pies crackling in fire raging at 800-1000 degrees. Toppings in the lab right now suggest confident simplicity and an attention to Italian cheeses: tomato, hand-stretched mozzarella and basil; mushrooms with leeks and robiola cheese; onions with radicchio, piave cheese, and saba. Pies will be 12-inchers, and priced around $11-$15.

THE EXTRAS

Coyne’s small list of appetizers and desserts also showcase his passion for cheese and baking. I like that he’s making his own burrata, the soft, rich mash-up of mozzarella and cream, which he’ll pair with salsa verde and pizza bianca, a crackery “white” pizza popular in Rome and a star at New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery (not to mention served up the street on Division at Duane Sorenson’s Roman Candle Bakery). Coyne’s crostini and bruschetta, with changing toppings, are slated to start, and to finish, wood-fired crostadas, cannoli, and cookies. Drinks will center on Italian and Oregon wines, local beer, and aperitifs. “Value is important to me,” says Coyne. Wines will run around $7-$11 per glass, with bottles $20-$60. 

THE ATTITUDE

Coyne is shooting for a clean, modern, and casually stylish vibe, with marble top tables, Arabesque tiles, and a 10-seat bar. For him, the difference between opening a place in New York and Portland? “In New York, you’re trying to get on a Vanity Fair list. In Portland, you’re trying to hook up with a good source for flour. It’s a different conversation altogether.”

Stay up to date with opening details on Pizza Maria's website, and come May 28, hours will be: 5-10 pm, Mon-Thurs, 5-11 pm, Fri-Sat, closed on Sun. Stay tuned to Eat Beat for more details they unfold!

Pizza Maria
3060 SE Division St

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