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October 13th, 2004 Byron Beck | Food Reviews & Stories



In the past year, weve been eating our way around Portlands newest tables, talking about how popular that sharp, sweet flavor of fennel has become and savoring the last bite of bacio gelato, all the while twirling long strands of pasta around our forks.

Weve reported on Lisa Schroeder opening Mama Mia downtown, Basilico chef Paul Ornstein frying up Roman favorites in a famed Northwest Portland restaurant space and the launch of Vito DiLullos swank Alberta Street dinner house, Ciao Vito. We also noted the birth of a baby Mingo on the MAX line out in Beaverton.

At first, it seemed like fine Italian joints were becoming as ubiquitous in neighborhoods as, well, our favorite Thai outposts. But beyond the trend of local diners re-embracing the comfort-and flavor-of carbohydrates, it seems that something even more important is happening in the local food world. Call it nature, well nurtured, as all over town a crew of independent chefs are delivering interesting, great-tasting food.

Theres the charming taste of the saltfish and ackee showcased at Annie McClouds Jamaican restaurant Montego Bay-and puckery cebiches and fried yuca from Andinas Liman import, chef Emmanuel Piqueras Villaran. And then theres the continued popularity of ripes latest eastside buzz-magnet, clarklewis, noted for chef Morgan Brownlows exceptionally homey Italian dishes.

And theres no better example of this move beyond trends, this continued attention to fresh, seasonal tastes, than the exceptional food served at Lauro Kitchen, WWs Restaurant of the Year for 2004. (See page 6.)

The formula at this Southeast Division Street bistro is simple: Win over the neighborhood, and the rest of the city will follow. Chef-owner David Machado went local after turning in the corporate charge card he wielded at the Kimpton Groups Red Star Tavern and the Heathman Groups Southpark Seafood Grill. He has crafted an innovative menu based on a handful of simple ingredients and the creative influences of not just Italy, but also Greece, Spain, Turkey and Portugal.

In recent months, weve been eating at Portlands exceptional restaurants-the kind of research we love the most. All of our reviewers make anonymous visits, while WW picks up the tab. Please note that the Restaurant Guide you have in your hands covers Portlands higher-end restaurants. Look for our Cheap Eats guide-which covers, as you might guess, lower-cost bites-next spring.

The key for restaurant costs as rated in this guide is:

$$ - Moderate: most entrees under $20

$$$ - Expensive: most entrees between $20 and $30

$$$$ - Very expensive: most entrees more than $30

As with any small business, hours and days of operation can vary, so we advise you to double check details before heading out for a meal. Youll also want to ask whether you can reserve a table. Speaking of trends: In a town that prides itself on its casual nights out, the no reservations rule seems to be here to stay-whether you like it or not.


Byron Beck, editor


Editor-in-Chief: Byron Beck

Editor: Ellen Fagg

Contributors: Mark Baumgarten, Byron Beck, Taylor Clark, Kelly N. Clarke, Kim B. Colton, Jim Dixon, Zach Dundas, Elizabeth Dye, Ellen Fagg, Ian Gillingham, Nigel Jaquiss, Melanie Jennings, Joshua Parish, Roger Porter, Margaret Seiler, John Schrag, Joel P. Smith, Audrey Van Buskirk, Heidi Yorkshire, Mark Zusman

Copy Editors: Anna-Frida Abrahamsson, Ian Gillingham, Michael Nicoloff, Margaret Seiler

Art Director: Jason Landis

Design & Production: Sarah Boden, Thomas Cobb, Maggie Gardner, Samantha Gardner, Kendon Gray, Tom Humphrey, Jennifer Lim, Jeremy Raidt, Matt Wong

Photography: Amy Ouelette

INSIDE THE RESTAURANT GUIDE: Introduction | Restaurant of the Year | Chefs Hits & Misses | Out Town : Suburbs | Restaurant Bars | Top 100 Restaurants (Now in the Food Finder)

INSIDE THE RESTAURANT GUIDE: Introduction | Restaurant of the Year | Chefs Hits & Misses | Out Town : Suburbs | Restaurant Bars | Top 100 Restaurants (Now in the Food Finder)
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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