Piazza Italia: Restaurant Guide 2014

1129 NW Johnson St., 478-0619, piazzaportland.com

[LITTLEST ITALY] This intimate Pearl-based pasta haven—founded in 2000 by friends Gino Schettini and Kevin Gorretta—sports a ceiling bulging with autographed soccer jerseys, and everywhere you look there's a shout-out to the grand game of calcio. But the actual stars here are the noodles. The linguine squarcierella ($12.75) is a rich and deliciously salty celebration of butter, egg, onion, parmesan and prosciutto—Gino's favorite, before his death in 2007—and the kind of elegant comfort food you can imagine gracing Carmela Soprano's dining room table. The spaghetti mare e monti ($14.50) tosses pesto, mushrooms and shrimp together for a unique take on an old favorite. And they don't skimp on the shrimp; Piazza Italia doesn't skimp on anything. The $9.50 antipasto plate is a meal unto itself and the insalata Caprese, while appropriately light, serves up just the right amount of mozzerella, roma tomato, basil, and virgin olive oil. Portions are generous, yet reasonable. If at the end of your meal you have room for dessert, get the tiramisu, served up with a smiley face-shaped swirl of raspberry sauce and washed down with a foamy cup of cappuccino. DEBORAH KENNEDY.

Pro tip:

Piazza Italia also doubles as a full-service deli. Why not pick up some prosciutto or gorgonzola to go?

11:30 am-3 pm, 5 pm-close daily. $$-$$$