Gino's: Restaurant Guide 2014

8051 SE 13th Ave., 233-4613, ginossellwood.com

[TRAD ITALIAN] The path to an Italian's heart is through a grandmother's cooking pot. Relation to said grandmother is unessential. "Grandma Jean," who gets the credit for this family-style Sellwood restaurant's signature pasta dish, could be someone's real nonna, as the menu claims, or simply a composite of the old, jiggly-armed Sicilian woman it's easy to imagine tending a giant cauldron of tomatoes, stewed beef, short ribs and pepperoni back in the kitchen. Either way, the massive plate of penne bearing her name will fill you with nostalgia, and it doesn't matter if you're a Scorsese or a Leipzig—the surname that, curiously, remains on the sign at the entrance to the adjoining bar. Marc and Deb Accuardi opened Gino's (again, could be an actual family member or a figment of our collective imagination, played by Danny Aiello) in 1996, and it remains one of surprisingly few places in Portland doing traditional American-style Italian without pretension. Warm up with an order of mussels, if mostly for the buttery, bread-friendly white sauce it comes with. As for the entree, the more classic, the better, whether it's chicken marsala, ravioli or a pasta dish. It's all rich, comforting and generously portioned—just how Grandma Jean would make it. MATTHEW SINGER.

Pro tip:

The late-night menu, available only on the bar side, offers Grandma Jean's for $5.95 and the famous Caesar salad for $5. And about that famous Caesar...it's just a Caesar, really. The polenta and sausage, shrimp or cheese plate make better starters.

4-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.