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Under an Italian Spell at Oregon Coast's Cannon Beach: Fultano's Pizza

Published 05/07/21 at 1:35 AM PDT
By Andre' Hagestedt

Under an Italian Spell at Oregon Coast's Cannon Beach: Fultano's Pizza

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A lovely, warm day in Cannon Beach one September (pre-pandemic), and the little north Oregon coast town is under the graceful spell of what’s called the “second summer.” It’s this part of the year when the beach towns are at their warmest, and this time and place is living up to that nickname.

On the beach there’s hardly a wind, and the little that there is feels unusually warm – probably because it’s coming the south. Part of this second summer thing is a greater presence of Santa Ana winds. The sun is bright, and the waves unusually calm.

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All this running around has filled me with starvation. So those beaches and their many wonders will have to wait. Or will they?

Always among my favorites around here is Cannon Beach Fultano’s Pizza. It’s a small chain around Oregon, mostly the coast, but each are individually owned. And this one has its own approach, a singular way of doing things that adds some gourmet touches and exceptional foodie secrets that work well with Cannon Beach’s vibes.

There’s outdoor seating here, and indeed I can take full advantage of the coastal air while stuffing myself with Italian cuisine. You can’t actually see the waves here, but you can hear them full well – and the combo of the scrumptious with the natural is a serious smile-inducer.

Cannon Beach Fultano’s Pizza is owned by David Johnson, who started working there in the ‘90s, later buying it himself. One of the first things he did was develop this exceptional, deliriously-good sauce for the place, which he uses for the pasta dishes and lasagna. Legend has it some of the inspiration came from a relationship with some of the family members who founded Portland’s seminal Monte Carlo restaurant.

This is no ordinary pasta sauce, so a thoroughbred lineage like that would not be a surprise.

It's a light and airy combination of seriously fresh tomatoes and a bevy of spices and herbs – apparently also including fennel, among other things. At the same time, there's a powerful tomato taste that won't override that lightness. I personally love this dish with a bunch of meatballs as well, which are a hearty delicacy all their own.

This chimes in at around $17 with the meatballs – and it's huge.

In recent years, Johnson has added calzone to the Fultano’s repertoire.

Fultano’s remarkable sauce has become the subject of a bit of chatter elsewhere around the state, with some foodie pals and restaurant owners I know in Portland even having discussed it with me in the past. Often, these folks refer to Fultano's lasagna as their favorite.

Pizzas run from around $17 - $21 for small pies, and up to around $30 for the really large family sizes. These feature plenty of the classics, which also include slightly unusual, intriguing pizzas like one covered in meatballs. Major gourmet additions include the Margherita (garlic and herb olive oil, three cheeses, red onion and more), a few hot ‘n spicy numbers with intriguing combos, a Goat Cheese pizza, and specialties with prosciutto, chicken and pesto sauce, Linguica, BBQ Chicken and a variety of seafood selections. That which formerly swam around includes baby clams, anchovies or shrimp.

Then there’s the taco pizza, which is a lush wonder of mash-up flavors. Vegetarian specialties are available, and there's a special thin crust recipe as well. Also added in recent years is a warming broth-based Italian soup with sausage, and a selection of very downhome-tasting sub sandwiches.

You can get slices during lunch and Fultano’s delivers to local hotels. 200 N. Hemlock (entrance on 2nd St.). Cannon Beach, Oregon. 503-436-9717. Cannon Beach Fultano's Website

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