Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, and though certain spots generate all the buzz, there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders — ourselves included — just aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food luminaries to share their under-the-radar recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
A native of Cajamarca, in the Andes of Peru, Doris Rodriguez de Platt — aka "Mama Doris" — created the popular Pearl District restaurant Andina as a place to share her family's love of Peruvian food. As a child, Doris remembers daily visits to the market to gather fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat, and her family's communal table always held two empty chairs, just in case someone stopped by during a meal. Doris continues these traditions today, commuting between her family home in Corvallis, OR and the dining room at Andina, where, as the co-owner, she greets diners with the same gracious welcome she learned from her mother. So it's not much of a surprise to find out one of her favorite places to dine in Portland would be a joint that also puts family first:
"My husband and my favorite place to eat out in Portland is Justa Pasta — a small, casual and cozy place very close to Andina. We love to sneak over after a busy night at Andina at least once or twice a week. After long hours of working in our restaurant, we need something that is simple and allows us to relax while we enjoy good and comfortable food, which we find at Justa Pasta. We love its homemade, fresh pasta cooked in a perfect al dente, accompanied with a fresh tomato or pesto sauce. My favorite dishes, bucatini or spinach linguine with meatballs, come in small sizes and are part of its general menu. Once in a while I copy my husband and order the daily specials of pasta or lasagna. One dish that both of us love to share is the special organic salad that always features fresh, local, organic products, such as spinach, beets, red onions, pine nuts and feta cheese that comes with olive oil, garlic and lemon vinaigrette sauce... Another aspect that we love about Justa Pasta is its friendliness. The owners, cashier, and cooks recognize their clients and treat them with care and familiarity, making everyone feel at home."