In the heart of downtown Roseburg, Old Soul Pizza offers a relaxing, eclectic space to enjoy great food and excellent service.
Story by Jenny Wood Photos by Thomas Boyd
It’s 102 degrees on a summer evening in Roseburg, but the 800-degree wood-fired oven is still lit at Old Soul Pizza, cranking out four pies every 90 seconds.
The restaurant is full of patrons eagerly awaiting their meal. The eclectic interior is adorned with vintage Forest Service signs, antlers, oil portraits and even the stray instrument or two. Smiling staff gracefully move among handcrafted tables and chairs, taking orders and delivering ice cold brews to thirsty guests.
Old Soul is a popular spot, and with its fun, welcoming atmosphere, attentive staff and great food, it’s no wonder.
On the menu are traditional favorites, such as the margherita with marinara sauce, fresh-sliced tomatoes, basil leaves and whole-milk mozzarella. For a pizza with a delightfully sweet twist, the Mia Malia is topped with mozzarella and parmesan, salami, jalapeño and honey.
Weekly specials feature both vegetarian and meat options that include toppings like peanut butter, jackfruit, heart of palm, and even macaroni and cheese.
Old Soul uses high-moisture, high-gluten dough with its personalized sourdough starter. After the dough proofs for three days it is hand-pulled, topped and fired. The result is a delicately chewy crust with a pleasant sourdough tang. Topping the crust is a house marinara sauce with big flavors of roasted garlic, olive oil and fresh basil.
The products of many local companies play important roles on Old Soul’s menu. Nickabob’s Meat Market in Roseburg supplies the Italian sausage and prosciutto. Regional craft beers are on tap and wines are from Paul O’Brien’s, Roseburg’s unique urban winery.
Fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and other produce are hand-selected every morning at Sherm’s Thunderbird Market. Seasonal produce is also supplied by local farms.
Ray Bartram owns and runs the place, but credits most of Old Soul’s success to his staff and a commitment to quality.
“All of our business is word-of-mouth,” says Bartram. “This community is really supportive of small businesses, and we try to spread that love back by sourcing whatever we can from people we know.”
Bartram has a background in marketing and design. The pizza inspiration hit relatively recently during a visit to Hawaii.
“A small food cart was selling pizzas from a wood-fired oven at an outdoor market,” he says. “The aroma was amazing, but the line was so long I didn’t even get a chance to try the pizza. But it planted a seed.”
“THIS COMMUNITY IS REALLY SUPPORTIVE OF SMALL BUSINESS, AND WE TRY TO SPREAD THAT LOVE BACK BY SOURCING WHATEVER WE CAN FROM PEOPLE WE KNOW.” —Ray Bartram
Not long after returning to Roseburg, Bartram built a cob – a basic oven made from clay, straw and sand—in his backyard and got to work. By day, he’d work at BBG Marketing, the agency he co-founded and co-led for 15 years. By night, he made pizza.
Bartram tested dozens of recipes for different types of crust and variations on sauce and experimented with an array of toppings. When the flavors were just right, he took his pizza on the road to local events, towing a custom-made, wood-fired pizza oven.
After going mobile for about three years, Bartram began planning for a brick-and-mortar location. Open now for nearly two years, Old Soul’s success has inspired Bartram to further enhance his welcoming atmosphere. Live music has already been a draw for customers, and he hopes to open a larger space for bigger shows.
With outstanding food and service, Old Soul clearly has found the recipe for staying hot far into the future.
Find Old Soul at 525 S.E. Main St. in downtown Roseburg.
TWO MORE TO EXPLORE
For the pizza lover in Douglas County, options abound. In addition to Old Soul and Abby’s (see The Making of a Local Legend), here are two more spots to add to your can’t-miss list.
Tucked away in the Hucrest neighborhood of Roseburg is a sweet little pizza joint with a fabulous menu. Owners Tami and Ric Webb make the needs and wants of their customers their top priority. Among Bluebird’s offerings are gluten-free crusts and an entire list of vegan pizzas.
One of the most popular pizzas is the Popeye, a vegetarian pie adorned with veggies, spinach and a creamy, white garlic sauce. The nod to healthier choices helped Bluebird become the first Blue Zones Certified restaurant in the Umpqua Valley.
The sweet-and-spicy Tandoori Chicken is packed with spiced chicken, cheese, smoky roasted red peppers, zesty jalapeños and a tangy mango chutney sauce, topped with fresh cilantro. Another unique offering is the Reuben pizza, the classic sandwich served pizza-style.
Bluebird Pizza is at 1612 N.W. Keasey St., Roseburg. Phone 541-229-6433.
For the true pizza lover, a trip to Tomaselli’s Pastry Mill and Cafe in Elkton is a must. The self-described “foodie oasis in the middle of nowhere” has been producing tasty traditional pizzas for more than 30 years. Wood-fired pizza was recently added to the menu as well.
Owner Marty Tomaselli is passionate about providing high-quality food. Nearly every item is scratch-made, from the original style and rustic pizza crusts, to the Sicilian and roasted garlic sauces.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the chipotle peanut butter barbecue sauce featured on the Finger Lickin’ Chicken pizza, which comes with savory smoked chicken and spicy jalapeños. Or create your own pie with a variety of toppings that extend from pears and Spanish chorizo to chevre and pesto sauce.
With more than 20 toppings to choose from, as well as house specialties, plus a full dinner menu (lunch, too), there’s no shortage of good reasons to make the trip to Elkton.
Tomaselli’s Pastry Mill and Cafe is at 14836 Umpqua Highway, Elkton. Phone 541-584-2855.