Yes, Virginia, there is fine dining in Portland. And lucky for the few locals and greater numbers of visitors who care, Castagna is world-class in both ambition and execution. Owner Monique Siu has managed to maintain a high bar a without a hint of dropoff since 2009, first under the kitchen leadership of lauded chef Matt Lightner, and for the past four years with Justin Woodward running the stove.
Portlanders: Imagine being seated in an elegant dining room, with doting servers, white tablecloths, comfortable furniture and an overarching sense of calm, quiet luxury.
It's real, and if you haven't been, it really is worth a saving up for. The 20 or so one-, two- and three-bite courses composing the "Chef's Tasting Menu" ($155, add wine pairings for $75) showcases Woodward and crew's mastery of modernist culinary technique—each course is as gorgeous to behold as it is delicious to eat—and preference for the natural wonders in local forests, streams, pastures and the little herb garden behind the kitchen.
A smaller season-specific menu and a vegetarian ensemble (each $95) are also available. On my last visit, the Chef's Tasting began with eight unspecified snacks, then moved on to eight listed savory courses, three sweets plus mignardises. Yes, in Portland.
Pro tip: Feeling flush? Woodward often has a stash of top-of-the-line A5 wagyu beef to supplement the tasting and your final bill.
GO: 1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 231-7373, castagnarestaurant.com. 5-9:30 pm Wednesday-Saturday. $$$$.