Portland’s incoming Italian place is pretty different from others that opened this season: It has no dining room, no cart, no pasta or amaro, not even a garlic knot. Nella Panzanella is all about Italy’s bread-based salad, only available for delivery. The company, a brainchild of husband-wife team Jasper Smith (Bar Casa Vale) and Ella McCallion, will launch on Caviar July 16, serving a melange of pickled and fresh vegetables tossed with toasted loaves of Portland-based breads. The briny Red Nella, for instance, uses roasted red bell peppers, Kalamata olives, Calabrian chile, and feta, paired with a country loaf and fresh tomatoes. The Green Nella focuses more heavily on roasted vegetables, including broccolini and leeks, tossed in a pepitas pesto.
“Panzanella is always Jasper and I’s go-to, on a weeknight when we want to feel like we’ve eaten a lot of vegetables without feeling hungry,” McCallion says. “For us, it feels like the perfect happy medium between a salad and a sandwich. It’s not something we eat much in the states, but it’s really big in Italy. So we’re like, ‘Oh, this is something we should be eating every day!’” A handful of Italian restaurants opened earlier this season, including Corzetti on NE Prescott and Il Solito downtown; however, panzanella isn’t exactly a crucial component of any of the restaurants. Who knows — perhaps Nella is just niche enough to pique locals’ interest.
• Nella [Official]
• Caviar [Official]
• Chef Johnny Nunn Starts Slinging Homemade Pasta Tomorrow [EPDX]
• Check Out the Menu at Matt Sigler’s New Downtown Italian Spot [EPDX]