Three levels underground, across the street from his new downtown headquarters, Pazzo Ristorante, chef John Eisenhart revealed his secret ingredient: an orange-red 1964 Galaxie.

You were expecting saffron, perhaps?

Last year, Portland foodies wondered who would take over the kitchen when Nathan Logan left Pazzo for New York. After a lengthy search, Eisenhart--a seasoned chef whose heart pounds for motor oil as much as for DaVero olive oil--took the wheel last December. The Bite Club cornered Pazzo's new executive chef to find out where he's steering one of the city's trademark Italian kitchens.

Bite Club: Nice car.

Eisenhart: I don't have a house, a garden or a girlfriend. When I'm not at work, I spend my time working on my car.

Back to your other job--now that you're the boss, what changes are we going to see?

Logan was of the mentality that more is better. Me, I like to do only four or five ingredients per plate. I always cringed a little when I worked with French chefs because I always wanted to use less of everything. That's what I like about Italian food--it only takes one or two things to make it shine.

You've worked with kitchen heavyweights like Mario Batali at New York's Babbo Ristorante and Philippe Boulot at the Heathman Restaurant. Learn anything?

Mario taught me to relax in the kitchen. Philippe taught me about the business and how to run a kitchen.

What's your dish? What will Pazzo be known for?

Philippe always called me "The Master of Pasta." So maybe it's pasta. I love pasta.

I spotted a bumper sticker for Discourage, a local record shop, on your car. You like punk rock?

Yeah, I've known Discourage's [co-]owner Paul Anson for 10 years. I just bought a 45 from them for $550. The Dicks' Hate the Police. It was autographed.

So you love punk rock.

I used to have my own label that reissued old punk records. It was called Tafelspitz Records.

Tafel-huh? What's that?

It's a German dish of boiled meat.

But these days cooking is your grand passion?

It's a close second--to my car.


Spread the love: Salavador Molly's East (3350 SE Morrison St., 234-0896), is keeping locals warm by teaming up with Oregon Heat, a program that helps families pay their winter heating bills. The nonprofit will receive a portion from the sales of special Molly menu items throughout February.

Another hot tip: Almost 50 restaurants and wineries are teaming up for the third annual Flux event, a benefit for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). WW is a sponsor for an evening of dining, drinking and dancing to local acts such as Sidestar and Amelia.

Machineworks, 1115 NW 15th Ave., 295-5013, . 7 pm Saturday, Feb. 28. $30 advance.

Pazzo Ristorante621 SW Washington St., 228-1515