Photo of Genoa courtesy Avila/EPDX
The Oregonian's Michael Russell takes a trip to Genoa, the SE Belmont institution that's seen its fair share of reincarnations in its 40-plus year history. This time around, chef Jake Martin (who replaced David Anderson at the end of 2012) is at the helm, and Russell's "B" grade acknowledges that Martin "offers some of the most vividly imagined plates in Portland." The eye for aesthetics leads to no fewer than 10 color descriptors ("deep red," "bright green," "a setting sun of orange") in five short paragraphs, painting over taste descriptors like "faintly tangy" and "fork-tender." Elsewhere, a seared salmon dish ("moist and buttery as a steak") arrives with an "ephemeral" Vadouvan curry; pillow-soft yogurt gnudi is dubbed a favorite.
But despite the review's colorful first section, the second half of the review contrasts Martin's "Technicolor" dishes with what Russell deems a stifling space akin to a mausoleum. (Elsewhere, the dining room is described as "the quietest restaurant in Oregon.") The plates may arrive splashed with bright reds, pale greens, and "orange and purple nasturtium petals," but the menu "doesn't have enough 'wow' moments" to infuse the dining experience with fun. [OregonLive]
WWeek, meanwhile, investigates Portland Monthly's recent claim that Lake Oswego's Pine Shed Ribs is the best barbecue in town, and comes away respectfully disagreeing with the monthly's choice: "The only way it would have the 'best barbecue in PDX' is if it opened a location at the airport." Brisket is dubbed "hit and miss," the house barbecue sauce is off-puttingly "syrupy," but here's still stuff to like — particularly the pork ribs ("moist and meaty with a perfectly blackened bark"), lightly smoked sausages, ranch beans, and cornbread. Ultimately, "in much of the northern half of the country, Pine Shed might still stand among the better barbecue joints in any given town. Thankfully, though, PDX isn't among them." [WW]
Cue the New York-style pizza debate: The Mercury's Chris Onstad visits SE Stark's Baby Doll Pizza and finds a pie worth praising. Enter pizza poetry: "A large wedge of their commendably thin, supernaturally even pie stays crisp and stiff to the tip, folds beautifully, and weeps but a tear of grease when compressed upon itself." Side dishes, sandwiches, and salads — like garlic knots and a "forgettable" Greek salad — "miss their intended marks," but hey, New Yorkers, listen up: "Is it New York style? Yes, it is, and it's the best version I've found here." [Mercury]