The eastside restaurant scene was competitive enough without Giovanna Parolari and John Taboada deciding to plunk Luce down just seven blocks east of their flagship restaurant, Navarre.
Sure, Luce is Italian to the core and different from Navarre's electric approach. But the same minimalist ethos makes the two places stylistically similar.
Set on a busy corner of a transitional stretch of Burnside where shopping carts outnumber fixies, Luce defines gritty simplicity. You want a comfy waiting area and tablecloths? Forget about it. Garnishes, maybe even a side with your main course? Nope.
But if you want an unadorned bowl of tagliatelle with beef and pork ragu ($20), perfectly al dente and content to let the flavor of a couple of ingredients speak for themselves? You found it.
Nobody here is going to tell you the name of the cow whose flank, kissed with olive oil and rosemary ($16), you're eating or the name of the rugged individualist who caught the baked, stuffed trout ($16).
Taboada, by the way, is the Michelangelo of trout cookery. Diners who think they don't like fish need to visit Luce or Navarre.
You want a $6 glass of house wine you won't hate yourself for drinking? You want panna cotta ($7) creamy and pure as an angel's dream, sauced with just a hint of the freshest fruit going? You want Luce.
Pro tip: Bring a sweater. The front door opens right into the dining room, which means, except for the hottest month of the summer, you'll be dodging drafts.
GO: 2140 E Burnside St., 236-7195, luceportland.com. 11 am-10 pm daily. $$.