In the long four years that it had been since we left Praia das Maçãs to live in the States, we returned to one place in our minds over and over: Roulote de Gigi, near Almoçageme.

What began as a food truck up on blocks in a vacant lot when we first arrived in 2015 evolved into a true neighborhood place, complete with a covered dining area, patio, and extended space for kids and dogs to run around while their minders dive into the best pizza on Earth.

What??? Seriously, we have searched high and low for the same balance of topping and crisp crust, of flavorful sauce evoking oregano and summer tomatoes but also a bit of je ne sais quoi that the transplanted Parisian and owner, Gigi, adds to every pie.

We wasted no time upon our arrival into Portugal last June, hot off the Paris Air Show on a quick TAP flight over. After navigating the once-familiar car rental scrum at LPPT we drove straight to the familiar bend in the road. When we walked in, she came out and wrapped her wiry self around us in a fit of giggles. No time had passed for these friends.

We ordered our favorites, still on the menu, the camponesa, and the carnivora, and she sent out a little dish of tremoços and a saucer of cheesy bread stuck with toothpicks for pre-pizza snacking. We gulped down our little copas de vinho branco and ordered more by the time the pies came out. Sizzling. Plied with just enough goodies. Perfect.

We returned a couple of days later with our “pack” of close friends, and this time I went for a special with figs… oh my, does the italiana have a competitor? Peut-être!

Still, no place like our pizza home on the corner, with the market bustling around…

Sign me up for a carnivora, Buck! [Credit: Julie Boatman]