Ten years ago, Gabriel Pascuzzi was working the line at New York restaurants owned by Daniel Boulud and Tom Colicchio, serving things like foie-gras-topped scallops or sirloin burgers stuffed with red-wine-braised short ribs. These days, things look remarkably different: Pascuzzi, now living on the opposite coast, is a leader in Portland’s health food scene. His grilled chicken restaurant, Mama Bird, “splits the difference between comfort food and health food,” in the words of Willamette Week critic Pete Cottell, with simple pineapple-juice-brined grilled chicken, seasonal grilled vegetables in everything from brown fava butter to vadouvan curry yogurt, and cups of gingery bone broth.
This year, however, he went full-blown crunchy, starting a grain-bowl pop-up called Feel Good. Like Mama Bird, Feel Good gave the same chef’s attention to toppings and sauces: Bowls of cauliflower rice and red quinoa came topped with delicately plated piles of charred, raw, and pickled vegetables. The Painted Hills, for instance, combined jalapeno cilantro vin with charred broccoli, sweet potato, and pineapple, with a salad of grapefruit, jicama, avocado, pickled red onion, and radish. It was enough of a hit that next year, Pascuzzi will move the grain bowl shop into its own restaurant space on SE Belmont.
The new Feel Good, set to open in the first quarter of next year, is going to stick closely to the menu at the original pop-up, with a few tweaks: The restaurant will drop the bulgur, sticking to brown rice, cauliflower rice, and quinoa; when it comes to protein options, the shop will only offer Ota tofu and Mary’s chicken. Plus, new seasonal produce will potentially influence the menu down the line; Pascuzzi knows he’ll keep the Painted Hills, The Usual with arugula mint pesto and crispy chickpeas, and the Japanese Garden, with roasted and charred vegetables, furikake, tamari almonds, and ginger poppy seed dressing. Pascuzzi says the beverage menu will generally focus on non-alcoholic options like kombucha — “The whole concept doesn’t scream, ‘I’m going to drink a beer,’” he says.
While the space will be primarily focused on takeout to start, but he plans on giving the space a bright, light, inviting feel, with hexagonal tile and living plants. However, the space is small — 450 square feet — so takeout will still be the name of the game for a while. Stacked Sandwich Shop, Pascuzzi’s first restaurant, will serve as its commissary, undergoing its own renovation to make room for all those salads, roasted vegetables, and dressings. Feel Good will be located at 1120 SE Belmont Street.
• Feel Good [Official]
• Mama Bird [Official]
• An Eater PDX Chef of the Year Is Opening a Bowl Pop-Up in His Sandwich Shop [EPDX]
• Mama Bird’s Chicken Splits the Difference Between Comfort Food and Health Food [WWeek]
Correction, December 7, 2020, at 9:08 p.m.
This story has been updated to correct the address of this business; it is located at 1120 SE Belmont Street, not 1130 SE Belmont.