Earlier this month, Stumptown founder/restaurateur Duane Sorenson swung the doors open at his hotly anticipated Italian restaurant Ava Gene's, favoring an under-the-radar approach to opening (the official website still doesn't list official hours of operation). And just a few weeks in, the spot — which mirrors the Woodsman Tavern aesthetic with glowing lighting and vintage paintings — has cultivated a buzz for its New-York-Italian menu by chef Joshua McFadden.
As promised, the multi-part menu features six different sections for everything from charcuterie/pane to meaty secondi, and the pasta section highlights dry semolina pasta by Italy's Famiglia Masciarelli — cooked al dente to honor "the Masciarelli's commitment to quality" — as well as pasta made in-house.
For a spot open less then four weeks, Ava Gene's landed on several "best of the year lists" — including Best New Restaurant and Best Meal. (In the former, Oregonian critic Michael Russell noted "the too-new-to-review Ava Gene's, with its lovely interior, has been strong out of the gate.") Over on Yelp, community director Don Bourassa files an epic review that dubs the spot "transcendent" — "one of my top 2 meals of the year." And at Portland Monthly, Evan Zimmerman's cocktail program gets props, too: "Cocktail wizard Evan Zimmerman has unleashed yet another winning drink program into Portland's booze scene."