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Opening Report: Tracking the Restaurants That Opened in April

Pizzas, tacos and a whole lotta rebranding.

Dina Avila

ALBERTA—On April 2, the folks behind Bamboo Sushi officially and permanently dropped their Bamboo Izakaya concept and reopened their former drinking foods spot, making it their third Portland Bamboo Sushi location. If you were a fan of the izakaya, there's still some comfort to be had: The menu features about five dishes from the old izakaya menu, including eggplant, asparagus salad, green salad, black cod and budino.

PEARL DISTRICT—Likewise, the Pho Van chainlet owners decided that their more upscale spinoff, Silk Vietnamese Restaurant, needed some rebranding, too, and have rebranded it as Pho Van Fresh, a fast-casual version of the Pho Van outlets on SE 82 and Beaverton. As we reported earlier this month, the decor has been given a casual makeunder, with high-counter seating along the window facing NW Glisan, and metal chairs replacing Silk's high-backed slip-covered seats. The bar is still next door, though, and will offer happy hour eats and drinks Monday through Saturday.

PEARL DISTRICT—On April 14, Chef-owner Francesco Inguaggiato welcomed the public to his new Sicilian restaurant, Bellino Trattoria Siciliana, in the redesigned space once home to Fratelli. Inguaggiato, a former professional basketball player in the Italian league for 18 years, grew up cooking in his grandfather's trattoria in Palermo. After retiring from basketball, he moved to Texas, where his wife is from, and opened two restaurants in 2004. With his new Portland venture, he's aiming for a deeper focus on authentic Sicilian cuisine. Expect an emphasis on fish and seafood, which Inguaggiato gets from Newman's Fish Market, and a menu stocked with lesser-known Sicilian specialties.

SOUTHWEST—The official grand opening won't take place until later this month, but in mid-April Verde Cocina's Noe and Anna Garnica took over the Sylvan Zoo House, a sportsbar off Highway 26 on SW Canyon Road that used to be Sylvan Steakhouse and Big Red's. The space is three to four times bigger than both Verde Cocina in the Pearl and the original cafe in Hillsdale, and includes ample parking, a big outdoor patio, a bar and space for private parties. This new location makes it the Garnica's third Verde Cocina spot.

CENTRAL EASTSIDE—Chef John Gorham, the man behind Toro Bravo, Tasty N Sons, Tasty N Alder and Mediterranean Exploration Company debuted Plaza Del Toro, his new event space, on April 17. When it's not being rented out, Gorham and his team will use it to host special dinners, and this month, Gorham will launch a prix-fixe Sunday brunch series featuring pastries, oysters, champagne and DJs.

SOUTHEAST—On April 24, chef Nicholas Ford and bartender Brandon Gomez, the duo behind the insanely popular P.R.E.A.M. pizza popups, officially opened permanent digs in the old Tennessee Red's space. Expect eats like arancini, grilled romaine salads, a series of grilled polenta dishes and a half dozen pies. Also expect lots of hip-Hop, played loudly.

GOOSE HOLLOW—When Dwayne Beliakoff Jonathan Cobbs bought The Bitter End a year and a half ago, they gave it a big remodel and upped the ante on the menu by offering hard cider menu nights, 22 taps of mostly craft beers, bistro burgers and dollar oysters. The only thing they really kept in tact was the name. That changed on April 28, when the duo reopened their space, fresh off another remodel and a menu tweak—with items like wedge salads, meatloaf, French onion soup and baked Alaska—under the banner of St. Helens Pub.

IRVINGTON—On the last day of April, Melanie McClure, the captain of a fleet of mobile taco trikes, settled into the brightly refurbished space once home to the very recently shuttered Blue Nile Cafe. She'll still offer up her Taco Pedaler favorites like empanada-like fried "dillas," chips and salsa and, of course, plenty of tacos, but the brick and mortar gives her—and you—the freedom to pair your food with margaritas and beer. Keep you eyes peeled for an expanded menu that McClure hopes to roll out by the middle of this month.

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