Lunch Dinner 5:30-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. No reservations for groups under six. $$ Moderate.
[VEGAN ITALIAN] Portobello doesn't do great vegan Italian food. It does great Italian food that happens to be vegan. The cheese is melty, the sausage is spicy, the steak is tender, and the ice cream is creamy. So what if they've never seen the inside of a cow? The essence of good, rustic Italian cuisine is all there—top-quality, fresh, local ingredients, cooked with passion and served with flair (and a big glass of vino). The trattoria began its life commandeering a cozy little daytime coffee shop only a few years ago, but the long queues of hungry vegans and omnis alike recently forced it to relocate to some larger, more sophisticated digs of its very own just four blocks away. The menu has also seen a makeover, most notably the addition of pizza—seriously tasty 12-inch pies with a soft, thin Neapolitan-style crust to rival any in town, vegan or otherwise. Those feeling adventurous should explore the raw offerings: The addictive aged cashew "cheese" and fresh fruit comes dripping in quality olive oil and pairs wonderfully with a dolci of local dessert wine. Cruelty-free cuisine has never tasted so wicked. RUTH BROWN.
Ideal meal: Enjoy the truffle mushroom pâté, spicy arrabiata pizza and strawberry cheesecake with your familia, but get a big bowl of the gnocchi all to yourself.
Best deal: The $9 eggplant Parmesan is a casserole of tender eggplant and marinara sauce, oozing with Daiya cheese, for almost half the price of the other entrees.