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Starters, salads, and pasta at Montelupo
Starters, salads, and pasta at Montelupo
Marielle Dezurick

15 Stellar Italian Restaurants in Portland

Find all manner of pastas and wine with Portland’s stunning Italian restaurants

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Starters, salads, and pasta at Montelupo
| Marielle Dezurick

In the last few years Portland has built itself a remarkably robust Italian food scene, from wood-fired pizzas to handmade pastas. Even during the pandemic, the city has seen its Italian options expand; beyond the classic trattoria, Portland now has a variety of Italian food carts and markets for in-home dining. Meanwhile, many of Portland’s venerated spots like Nostrana and 3 Doors Down have adapted to the new circumstances, expanding outdoor seating and adding delivery and takeout services.

Below, you’ll find Portland’s most exceptional Italian osterias and trattorias; those looking for a more specific pizza map can find it here.

As usual, this map is organized geographically, not by ranking.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Gabagool

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Denizens of St. Johns need not venture far to find incredible Italian food, as Gabagool sits in the center of the neighborhood. The menu offers some unique options, like flatbread sandwiches like the namesake gabagool, which is essentially an Italian sub served on flatbread. For the pasta, there’s spaghetti offered a variety of different ways (including with pomodoro tomato sauce and meatballs), a rich but delicate pappardelle with fennel sausage ragu, and a number of other options—a seasonal ravioli is always a good choice.

These days, the restaurant has moved out of its large-window dining hall and onto a heated patio, and also offers its pastas and sandwiches for takeout and delivery with online orders.

Campana

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Hidden up in the Woodlawn neighborhood, Campana began as on offshoot pasta night for the whole-hog butchery focused restaurant Grand Army Tavern. However, the homey pasta dishes and ample entrees proved so popular the restaurant fully converted, though it kept the house-butchered pork in the form of dishes like grigliata mista (grilled meat platter). There’s plenty to like in this bright, open industrial space, but the simple-yet-delicious plate of spaghetti and meatballs is hard to beat, especially with a crimson glass of Italian wine in hand. Campana is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, as well as outdoor dining.

Gabbiano’s

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This self-identified Italian American restaurant churns out all the greatest hits — slices of duck breast over a rich foie marsala; hubcap-sized chicken parm, fried crispy and topped with mozz; fall-apart lamb osso bucco over a bed of polenta. The restaurant is particularly shrewd in where it strays from the original, however, using pretty pink chicory leaves in a Caesar or infusing Campari with sun-dried tomatoes for a negroni. Diners can sit in the delightfully loud dining room with proof of vaccination, or grab a seat at the checkered outdoor tables on the heated patio.

Previously Portland’s best Italian food cart, Gumba has moved inside, taking over the space previously home to Aviary. Gumba walks the line between Italian American dining and more “traditional” Italian cuisine. Thick strips of al dente pappardelle are topped with aromatic beef sugo; large, handmade meatballs perch on piles of toothsome spaghetti enveloped in marinara and dotted with ricotta; and colorful, delicate tagliatelle is garnished with egg yolks and burrata. Menus regularly change, and Mondays often feature vegan or meatless versions of classic dishes. Orders can be placed for dining in and takeout via the website. Gumba is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination.

The argument could be made that Grassa is less Italian food, and more fast-paced American counter-service with Italian influences — any red-blooded Italian who orders carbonara and receives a bowl of pasta topped with breadcrumbs and a fried egg would likely want to have words with the manager. But it’s deeply satisfying, as are all the other fresh-made pastas. Slinging bowls of noodles loaded with an abundance of flavors, Grassa is the pasta equivalent of Lardo — fast, affordable, reliable, and tasty. It’s also available via delivery through Caviar from each of its three locations.

View this post on Instagram

More pork belly please.

A post shared by Grassa (@grassapdx) on

Cooperativa

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While it still faced many of the challenges that others in Portland did when it opened in September of 2020, Cooperativa’s position as a marketplace first helped propel it through the pandemic. Today, it still serves as a market for Italian pantry items, grab-and-go food, and other goods, but also as an Italian bistro in its own right. The menu leans classic, with fresh pastas like a rich and hearty bolognese, a bright and aromatic pasta all’amatriciana, and daily specials. It also serves as a pizzeria with Roman style pizza by the slice and as full pies, plus Italian cafe drinks and items including panini and a killer breakfast frittata sandwich.

Caffe Mingo

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 Caffe Mingo’s legacy looms large over Portland’s restaurant scene — it is, after all, where Gumba’s Jesse Martinez once rolled pasta before opening his cart. The original restaurant continues to evoke warmth and sophistication, frying golden arancini filled with mushrooms and meticulously layering lasagna with Bolognese and béchamel. Pasta is often the move here, be it pappardelle twirled with wild boar ragú or bucatini with broccolini, and the restaurant’s wine cellar is well-stocked with potential pairings. Caffe Mingo is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, as well as outdoor dining.

Montelupo Italian Market

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Montelupo was part of a welcome trend when it opened as a two-in-one market and restaurant. Since its inception it has continued to expand, welcoming in diners for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a casual, counter service Italian cafe and bistro, while still offering its menu of takeout dinners and Italian ingredients. Diners can enjoy the rustic pasta dishes inside, outside, and for takeout, with items like the delicate tajrin with truffle butter and piles of parmesan, hearty pappardelle with creamy tomato and pork ragu, and the excellent lemon chicken cavatelli with ricotta, capers, and olives. Additionally, the market sells fresh pasta dishes to prepare at home, wine, pantry staples, and everything else needed to turn home kitchens into fine Italian dining. All of it is available via online orders, including for delivery. Montelupo is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, as well as outdoor dining.

Black and white tiled floor and racks of olive oil, canned tomatoes, and wine give Luce’s intimate space the feeling of a small shop in an Italian village. The illusion is made complete with Luce’s simple selection of fresh pasta dishes—clams float in aromatic broth and piles of al dente spaghetti, hearty and meaty rigatoni dishes pair with the robust Italian wines served in familiar bistro glasses, and spiced shrimp nestle within swirled piles of linguini. Beyond the pasta, Luce’s entrees are no less impressive, from baked trout to hanger steak. The pro move it to go with a few friends and split every pasta on the menu, plus a few larger dishes, and a bottle or two of rustic Italian wine. Luce is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination.

View this post on Instagram

Nice @vickystetekluh

A post shared by Luce (@luceportland) on

Mucca Osteria

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A staple of the downtown dining scene, Mucca is as much a destination for its immaculate service as it is its menu, both of which deliver in spades. After devouring the foccacia immediately served on the white tablecloth-laden tables, diners dig into plates of tender tagliatelle with venison ragu, plump beef and cabbage-filled agnolotti, and decadent, marsala-topped duck hen breasts. For dessert, the panna cotta and tiramisu are musts, and the wine list is far from an afterthought, featuring a staggering collection of bottles from all over Italy, as well as some French and New World offerings. Mucca Osteria is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination.

Sebastiano’s

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While the vast majority of Italian restaurants in Portland define themselves by their pastas, Sebastiano’s takes a different approach. This cafe and deli in Montavilla is all about Italian baked goods, especially its sandwiches—served on a focaccia baked in-house, options include a muffuletta with local meats or a vegetarian eggplant version, as well as a daily special. It also offers salads, cannoli, cakes, and pantry items including arborio rice, salami, cheeses, and wines.

Nostrana

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The lauded Italian eatery from Portland luminary Cathy Whims remains as relevant as it was when it opened in 2005. Most nights see diners crowded under the lanterns hanging from vaulted ceilings as plate after plate of buttery tomato sauce-coated capellini, steaming platters of bolognese, and hearty entrees like seared scallops and garlic-rosemary flat iron steak head to the tables. Couples on dates slice the uncut pizzas with the provided scissors, and down glasses of bold Italian wines and bittersweet negroni variations. Nostrana is inherently celebratory, a fixture in Portland’s upscale dining scene for its atmosphere, its service, and its food. Nostrana is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, and will open its outdoor seating in spring.

3 Doors Down Cafe

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3 Doors Down may not be as trendy as some of Portland’s more recognizable Italian restaurants, but its dedicated following regularly returns for its old school-charm, sizable pasta dishes, and the deep wine list that made it a wine-industry hangout for years. The restaurant sticks to playful, comforting takes on familiar styles, including its baked orecchiette with eggplant ragu, aromatic shellfish fettucini, and creamy, slightly spicy ziti with sweet Italian sausage. Its gnocchi is a sleeper hit and the perfect way to kick off a meal. 3 Doors down offers indoor seating again for vaccinated guests, but for those who don’t feel comfortable inside, it has a nice new outdoor dining area and offers takeout.

Dominated by a central bar and lined with tufted red leather booths, the mistake could be made that Cibo is more of a pizzeria and bar than full Italian restaurant. But the small-but-solid pasta list and Italian wine menu elevate the restaurant to a more full-fledged Italian eatery, while still being a more casual, weeknight or special occasion kind of venture. Still, the thin, char-kissed wood-fired pizzas are the main draw, especially the signature margherita.

A Cena Ristorante

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A homey, romantic Italian restaurant A Cena (pronounced ah-chay-nah) has remained a staple of the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood for years. Often changing with seasonal ingredients, it offers more robust pasta dishes made in-house (think beef short rib and pork shoulder sugo over tagliatelle and raviolini with Maine lobster), as well as some meaty mains and fun sides, including fried Brussels sprouts with bacon. Its white tablecloths and painting-lined walls evoke an earlier dining style, and diners can now enjoy in-person dining.

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Gabagool

Denizens of St. Johns need not venture far to find incredible Italian food, as Gabagool sits in the center of the neighborhood. The menu offers some unique options, like flatbread sandwiches like the namesake gabagool, which is essentially an Italian sub served on flatbread. For the pasta, there’s spaghetti offered a variety of different ways (including with pomodoro tomato sauce and meatballs), a rich but delicate pappardelle with fennel sausage ragu, and a number of other options—a seasonal ravioli is always a good choice.

These days, the restaurant has moved out of its large-window dining hall and onto a heated patio, and also offers its pastas and sandwiches for takeout and delivery with online orders.

Campana

Hidden up in the Woodlawn neighborhood, Campana began as on offshoot pasta night for the whole-hog butchery focused restaurant Grand Army Tavern. However, the homey pasta dishes and ample entrees proved so popular the restaurant fully converted, though it kept the house-butchered pork in the form of dishes like grigliata mista (grilled meat platter). There’s plenty to like in this bright, open industrial space, but the simple-yet-delicious plate of spaghetti and meatballs is hard to beat, especially with a crimson glass of Italian wine in hand. Campana is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, as well as outdoor dining.

Gabbiano’s

This self-identified Italian American restaurant churns out all the greatest hits — slices of duck breast over a rich foie marsala; hubcap-sized chicken parm, fried crispy and topped with mozz; fall-apart lamb osso bucco over a bed of polenta. The restaurant is particularly shrewd in where it strays from the original, however, using pretty pink chicory leaves in a Caesar or infusing Campari with sun-dried tomatoes for a negroni. Diners can sit in the delightfully loud dining room with proof of vaccination, or grab a seat at the checkered outdoor tables on the heated patio.

Gumba

Previously Portland’s best Italian food cart, Gumba has moved inside, taking over the space previously home to Aviary. Gumba walks the line between Italian American dining and more “traditional” Italian cuisine. Thick strips of al dente pappardelle are topped with aromatic beef sugo; large, handmade meatballs perch on piles of toothsome spaghetti enveloped in marinara and dotted with ricotta; and colorful, delicate tagliatelle is garnished with egg yolks and burrata. Menus regularly change, and Mondays often feature vegan or meatless versions of classic dishes. Orders can be placed for dining in and takeout via the website. Gumba is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination.

Grassa

The argument could be made that Grassa is less Italian food, and more fast-paced American counter-service with Italian influences — any red-blooded Italian who orders carbonara and receives a bowl of pasta topped with breadcrumbs and a fried egg would likely want to have words with the manager. But it’s deeply satisfying, as are all the other fresh-made pastas. Slinging bowls of noodles loaded with an abundance of flavors, Grassa is the pasta equivalent of Lardo — fast, affordable, reliable, and tasty. It’s also available via delivery through Caviar from each of its three locations.

View this post on Instagram

More pork belly please.

A post shared by Grassa (@grassapdx) on

Cooperativa

While it still faced many of the challenges that others in Portland did when it opened in September of 2020, Cooperativa’s position as a marketplace first helped propel it through the pandemic. Today, it still serves as a market for Italian pantry items, grab-and-go food, and other goods, but also as an Italian bistro in its own right. The menu leans classic, with fresh pastas like a rich and hearty bolognese, a bright and aromatic pasta all’amatriciana, and daily specials. It also serves as a pizzeria with Roman style pizza by the slice and as full pies, plus Italian cafe drinks and items including panini and a killer breakfast frittata sandwich.

Caffe Mingo

 Caffe Mingo’s legacy looms large over Portland’s restaurant scene — it is, after all, where Gumba’s Jesse Martinez once rolled pasta before opening his cart. The original restaurant continues to evoke warmth and sophistication, frying golden arancini filled with mushrooms and meticulously layering lasagna with Bolognese and béchamel. Pasta is often the move here, be it pappardelle twirled with wild boar ragú or bucatini with broccolini, and the restaurant’s wine cellar is well-stocked with potential pairings. Caffe Mingo is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, as well as outdoor dining.

Montelupo Italian Market

Montelupo was part of a welcome trend when it opened as a two-in-one market and restaurant. Since its inception it has continued to expand, welcoming in diners for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a casual, counter service Italian cafe and bistro, while still offering its menu of takeout dinners and Italian ingredients. Diners can enjoy the rustic pasta dishes inside, outside, and for takeout, with items like the delicate tajrin with truffle butter and piles of parmesan, hearty pappardelle with creamy tomato and pork ragu, and the excellent lemon chicken cavatelli with ricotta, capers, and olives. Additionally, the market sells fresh pasta dishes to prepare at home, wine, pantry staples, and everything else needed to turn home kitchens into fine Italian dining. All of it is available via online orders, including for delivery. Montelupo is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, as well as outdoor dining.

Luce

Black and white tiled floor and racks of olive oil, canned tomatoes, and wine give Luce’s intimate space the feeling of a small shop in an Italian village. The illusion is made complete with Luce’s simple selection of fresh pasta dishes—clams float in aromatic broth and piles of al dente spaghetti, hearty and meaty rigatoni dishes pair with the robust Italian wines served in familiar bistro glasses, and spiced shrimp nestle within swirled piles of linguini. Beyond the pasta, Luce’s entrees are no less impressive, from baked trout to hanger steak. The pro move it to go with a few friends and split every pasta on the menu, plus a few larger dishes, and a bottle or two of rustic Italian wine. Luce is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination.

View this post on Instagram

Nice @vickystetekluh

A post shared by Luce (@luceportland) on

Mucca Osteria

A staple of the downtown dining scene, Mucca is as much a destination for its immaculate service as it is its menu, both of which deliver in spades. After devouring the foccacia immediately served on the white tablecloth-laden tables, diners dig into plates of tender tagliatelle with venison ragu, plump beef and cabbage-filled agnolotti, and decadent, marsala-topped duck hen breasts. For dessert, the panna cotta and tiramisu are musts, and the wine list is far from an afterthought, featuring a staggering collection of bottles from all over Italy, as well as some French and New World offerings. Mucca Osteria is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination.

Sebastiano’s

While the vast majority of Italian restaurants in Portland define themselves by their pastas, Sebastiano’s takes a different approach. This cafe and deli in Montavilla is all about Italian baked goods, especially its sandwiches—served on a focaccia baked in-house, options include a muffuletta with local meats or a vegetarian eggplant version, as well as a daily special. It also offers salads, cannoli, cakes, and pantry items including arborio rice, salami, cheeses, and wines.

Nostrana

The lauded Italian eatery from Portland luminary Cathy Whims remains as relevant as it was when it opened in 2005. Most nights see diners crowded under the lanterns hanging from vaulted ceilings as plate after plate of buttery tomato sauce-coated capellini, steaming platters of bolognese, and hearty entrees like seared scallops and garlic-rosemary flat iron steak head to the tables. Couples on dates slice the uncut pizzas with the provided scissors, and down glasses of bold Italian wines and bittersweet negroni variations. Nostrana is inherently celebratory, a fixture in Portland’s upscale dining scene for its atmosphere, its service, and its food. Nostrana is open for indoor dining with proof of vaccination, and will open its outdoor seating in spring.

3 Doors Down Cafe

3 Doors Down may not be as trendy as some of Portland’s more recognizable Italian restaurants, but its dedicated following regularly returns for its old school-charm, sizable pasta dishes, and the deep wine list that made it a wine-industry hangout for years. The restaurant sticks to playful, comforting takes on familiar styles, including its baked orecchiette with eggplant ragu, aromatic shellfish fettucini, and creamy, slightly spicy ziti with sweet Italian sausage. Its gnocchi is a sleeper hit and the perfect way to kick off a meal. 3 Doors down offers indoor seating again for vaccinated guests, but for those who don’t feel comfortable inside, it has a nice new outdoor dining area and offers takeout.

Cibo

Dominated by a central bar and lined with tufted red leather booths, the mistake could be made that Cibo is more of a pizzeria and bar than full Italian restaurant. But the small-but-solid pasta list and Italian wine menu elevate the restaurant to a more full-fledged Italian eatery, while still being a more casual, weeknight or special occasion kind of venture. Still, the thin, char-kissed wood-fired pizzas are the main draw, especially the signature margherita.

A Cena Ristorante

A homey, romantic Italian restaurant A Cena (pronounced ah-chay-nah) has remained a staple of the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood for years. Often changing with seasonal ingredients, it offers more robust pasta dishes made in-house (think beef short rib and pork shoulder sugo over tagliatelle and raviolini with Maine lobster), as well as some meaty mains and fun sides, including fried Brussels sprouts with bacon. Its white tablecloths and painting-lined walls evoke an earlier dining style, and diners can now enjoy in-person dining.

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