NE 42nd Ave is on its way to becoming a pizza destination. While Tommy Habetz's (of Bunk) Pizza Jerk is still in the weeds with its build out of the former Magoo's bar (truly, pour some out), Red Sauce Pizza—just across the way in the former Rocket Pizza space—opened for business on Friday.

I got the rundown earlier from owner Shardell Dues. Formerly the manager of the famously long-lined Apizza Scholls, Dues brings the skills honed from a lifetime of pizzeria expertise to play here in a major, major way. I mean that. I was obviously expecting this place to be good but I wasn't thinking about it that hard when I went in on Sunday evening. Other than the big and adorably upside down "PIZZA" sign outside (I'm convinced it happened on accident and they just decided to run with it), there's nothing weird or "experience" about the joint, which is clean and basic, down to its "heyyyy, I'm a pizzeria joint!" red and white check tablecloths. It's a small space, and they're geared at servicing the neighborhood with some much-needed (sorry but Rocket was awful) quality to-go pies as much if not more so than for eat-in diners (though they'll be serving beer soon).

But HOLY SHIT. It is so good. It completely exceeded expectations. Between three of us, my party sampled three types of pie: the vegetarian Fernandez (Mama Lil's peppers, spinach, red onion, and goat cheese), the Jack Dekovich (with pepperoni and housemade chorizo), and the Parcel (salami and arugula) plus a large, lemony, and excellent Caesar salad that mixed the standard romaine with some much-welcome tender kale. We happily burned our mouths, impatient to try each excellent variety as it arrived. My husband downright blubbered to the server about how if anyone told him he'd be living down the street from pizza of this quality in Portland, Oregon after moving back here from NYC a decade ago, he'd never have believed it, etc etc.

Parcel on the left, Jack Dekovich on the right, and Fernandez on the bottom.
  • Jesse Champlin
  • Parcel on the left, Jack Dekovich on the right, and Fernandez on the bottom.

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Dues seemed modest in her goals for Red Sauce when we corresponded, telling me she just wanted to focus on good customer service and being a "neighborhood spot." Well... I guess my neighborhood just got more awesome. Like a lot more awesome.

Your move, Pizza Jerk. Your move.

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