Photo of Portobello Vegan Trattoria courtesy Avila/EPDX
Chef Aaron Adams will soon unveil what he's calling "Portobello 2.0," a revamped version of his popular Italian-vegan-comfort food spot Portobello Vegan Trattoria. The Southeast spot closed for renovations last week, allowing Adams and his crew to remove a wall between the main and private dining rooms, expanding the main dining area to 65 seats. But the reset extends beyond the cosmetic, with what Adams calls "a new spirit" for the restaurant, including a menu redesign that emphasizes the "trattoria" in Portobello's name.
"We had to really figure out what our focus is and what our identity was," says Adams, who admits to "being pulled in different directions" between fine-dining and a more casual focus. "We're not trying to do white-linen, fancy dining, we're trying to do a casual dining experience where we're using the same quality ingredients and techniques you might find in fine dining, but not quite as fussy."
The expanded menu will see more antipasti dishes (like pickled veggies and olives), at least two additional housemade pastas each night, and two new rotating seasonal pizzas (not counting Portobello's arrabiata and pepperoni pies, which will also be available nightly). Menu columns see an increased focus on vegetables, with "more composed" veggie sides and vegetables increasingly moving to the center of main courses; the vegan-cheese menu also gets a major upgrade. "We're buying artisan nut cheese from all over the country and showing off a bunch of really nice American cultured nut cheeses, from Door 86, Punk Rock Labs, and Heidi Ho's," Adams says. Sunday's weekly family-style "suppers" remain intact.
Meanwhile, at the bar, the cocktail menu gets pared down slightly as focus shifts toward Italian and Mediterranean products to create a "cohesive" dining experience. Adams says he's unsure if brunch will make a comeback in the future, but if so, "it's going to be way less biscuits-and-gravy and way more portobello." Portobello is aiming for a Saturday, January 11 reopening.
· Portobello Vegan Trattoria [Official site]
· All Previous Portobello Coverage [Eater PDX]