With Wolf and Bear's stacked falafel wraps, Guero's rich tortas and Captured by Porches beer around a fireplace, the little cart pod on Southeast 28th Avenue and Ankeny Street was already one of the better casual food destinations in town. The addition of Tuscan cart Burrasca is a tipping point: This is the best curated pod in the city.
Burrasca's chef Paolo is a new arrival from Florence, Italy, and his menu is a small scattering of Tuscan dishes rarely seen in these parts. The most familiar of these is probably pappardelle al cinghiale ($8), which offers a light tongue-prickle from the juniper, bay leaf and rosemary spicing the wild boar meat, a feeling that spreads into the whole-mouth comfort of red wine and tomato sauce.
The handmade, lovely, fresh and firm pappardelle is the only pasta dish on the menu, a fact one would regret more were it not for the more alien comforts of the inzimino ($7), a mound of sauteed squid rings and wine-soaked spinach that looks a bit like an amorphous, oil-slicked bird found off the Gulf Coast. Trattoria Gallo Nero's version of the coastal Italian peasant dish is a perfectly friendly, low-ambition affair of spinach and tomato, but Burrasca's inzimino seems tinged almost with ink, a squid-forward surge of herb, wine, salt and spice. The intensity was at first off-putting, then irresistibly addictive: Now, nothing else will do.
The rest of the menu is pure comfort: a pleasantly spicy, herbal ribollita (bread and bean soup, $5) and a classic panino ($7) free of the singed oil of the American version. It is all dusty bread and juicy, fennel-rubbed pork tenderloin smothered in generous chile verde—it's departing, however, in favor of an autumn meatloaf.
The only complaint is that Paolo's obvious care in preparing the food leads to waits longer than at most carts. The only tenable solution I see—I have no interest in him changing his methods—is that enough Portlanders eat his food that he can open an indoor restaurant. So do that.
- Order this: Inzimino and soup. Or panino and soup. Or pappardelle and soup.
EAT: Burrasca, 113 SE 28th Ave., burrascapdx.com. 11:30 am-7 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-3 pm Sunday. $. Cash only.