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

Stellar Italian Restaurants and Food Carts in Portland

Find all manner of pastas and wine at 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. Food carts hawk varieties of Italian street foods, while markets and bakeries prepare beautiful house focaccia, pastas, and cannoli. Date night restaurants roll and cut pastas by hand, while chefs methodically stir pots of Bolognese or ragu for hours ahead of service. All the while, the old-school Italian restaurants, serving standards like eggplant Parmigiana and spaghetti and meatballs, continue to hold on, retaining a roster of regulars. Below, you’ll find Portland’s most exceptional Italian osterias and trattorias; those looking for a more specific pizza map can find it here.

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.

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Pastificio d’Oro

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This St. Johns pop-up turned restaurant from Chase Dopson and Maggie Irwin isn’t the place for heavily sauced pastas and a lengthy menu of secondi. Here, Dopson focuses intently on his pastas, truly made by hand using rolling pins, knives, and little else. Menus change often and the team only offers a few pastas any given night; some days, that might be super-fine tajarin with a rich ragu; on others, it might be plump little agnolotti, stuffed with roasted veal. Come with friends and order them all.

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. There’s plenty to like in this bright, open industrial space, but it’s usually smart to opt for a pasta or risotto, with meatballs marinara to start. The simple-yet-delicious plate of happy hour puttanesca is hard to beat, especially with a crimson glass of Italian wine in hand.

Bari Food Cart

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This Killingsworth food cart specializes in a beloved Italian street food, panzerotti — those unfamiliar can think of it as a God-tier Hot Pocket. Little mini-calzone-shaped turnovers, stuffed with things like fresh mozzarella or Italian sausage, pop in the fryer, emerging crispy on the outside and melty-gooey on the inside. Order a few, as well as a slice of cake if on offer that day.

This Killingsworth restaurant collective has received plenty of buzz for its recent residencies — Mexican concept Clandestino, in particular, plus its other concepts down the street at Lil’ Dame — but the standard Italian menu at the restaurant, available Thursdays through Sundays, is nothing to ignore. Sitting in a sapphire blue dining room, meals start with silky seasonal soups, transitioning to impeccably executed pastas. Cacio e pepe, retaining its bite, captures the right balance of black pepper and Grana Padano in a sauce that coats each noodle beautifully. Squid ink pasta swims with marinated shrimp and seductively spicy tomato sauce. Pair any of them with a wine from owner Jane Smith’s exceptional list.

Gabbiano’s

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This self-identified Italian American restaurant churns out all the greatest hits — spaghetti and pork-and-beef meatballs; hubcap-sized chicken Parm, fried crispy and topped with mozz; piles of fried calamari with a briny caper aioli. The restaurant is particularly shrewd in where it strays from the original, however, adding roasted poblanos to an alfredo or infusing Campari with sun-dried tomatoes for a Negroni. The fried mozzarella here is a marvel in engineering, sort of a fried mozzarella shot glass filled with marinara.

Previously Portland’s best Italian food cart, Gumba has moved inside, taking over the space previously home to Aviary. Gumba’s take on Italian food is intentionally loose, happily incorporating menu items like fry bread or tossing spaghetti with celery root cream and sumac-candied shallots. Menus regularly change, but visitors will often find thick strips of al dente pappardelle topped with aromatic beef sugo on the menu — it’s a must-order. For dessert, opt for inventive treats like eggplant caramel olive oil cake.

Sorbu Paninoteca

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This Cully food cart is likely the only spot in town serving torta di ceci, a chickpea flour flatbread. Here, it arrives in a sandwich, layered with grilled eggplant and optional mozzarella (if you eat dairy, add the mozzarella). However, the full, seasonal menu at Sorbu is worth exploration, be it a decadent porchetta sandwich slathered in anchovy mayo, sourdough ciabatta loaded with saffron-and-tomato-braised lamb shoulder, or a smooth carrot soup finished with sumac oil.

Tartuca

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The romantic vibes of this Mississippi Italian restaurant fit the menu, where meals begin with oysters on the half shell and end with amaro. Menus change frequently here, but they always involve some lovely pastas — radiatori trapping a layered Bolognese between its folds, twists of gemelli bolstered with black garlic. Pizzas arrive with ribbons of prosciutto or nonchalant dabs of herby salsa verde, also available gluten-free for those in need. Salads often incorporate produce from the Pacific Northwest; they’re worth an order, regardless of season.

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, tossing little gems with Caesar or gently stirring risotto with roasted seasonal mushrooms. Pasta is often the move here, be it penne with Chianti-and-espresso braised beef or spaghetti with clams and sausage, and the restaurant’s wine cellar is well-stocked with potential pairings. Next door, the restaurant’s sibling knocks out some next-level pastas and salads, as well.

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, opening a focaccia shop in Southeast Portland as well; however, dinner at the casual Italian cafe and bistro remains a favorite for neighborhood locals. While the restaurant does offer seasonally rotating pastas, going for the comfort food stalwarts is the move here: delicate tajarin with truffle butter and piles of parmesan, lumache alla vodka bolstered with hot Italian sausage, mafaldine Bolognese, with beef and pork catching itself in the ridges of the pasta. 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.

A bowl fo spaghetti sits on a table next to a glass of red wine.
A bowl of pasta at Montelupo.
Montelupo

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 selection of fresh pasta dishes — cappelletti float in an elegant, profound broth, hearty and meaty baked pasta 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 antipasti are often worth an order, a range of flavorful marinated vegetables and crostini. 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.

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 sandwiches layered with oil-poached tuna or Sweetheart ham. It also offers salads, the city’s best 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. Menus change daily, but most nights see diners crowded under the lanterns hanging from vaulted ceilings as plate after plate of buttery tomato sauce-coated pasta, steaming platters of Bolognese, and hearty entrees like seared scallops with parsnip-celeriac puree 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.

Pulling off vegan Italian food is exceptionally tricky; so many dishes lean on a snowy pile of cheese, a binding egg yolk, luscious rendered pork fat. That’s what makes this tiny Italian restaurant on Southeast Madison so special — all of its pizzas, handmade pastas, meatballs, and risotto are animal product free. Skip the pizzas in favor of the restaurant’s pastas, which range from curls of orecchiette coated in an earthy, sweet sun-dried tomato pesto to pasta Bolognese swapping the beef and pork for textured vegetable protein. For dessert, a mind-boggling panna cotta is the move.

Il Terrazzo

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Waterfront dining is not a huge thing in Portland, but this riverside restaurant is a nice spot to unwind over a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. Menus do change periodically, though the restaurant’s six-hour-simmered Bolognese is a stalwart popular among Southwest Portlanders. Pasta is the move here, in particular a sunny-hued saffron ravioli, if available; finish with the restaurant’s knockout tiramisu.

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 pancetta. Grab a Negroni at the bar; this is a fun spot to dine solo, if that’s your thing.

Gino’s is some Old Portland realness. This Sellwood restaurant, almost always packed with neighborhood locals, delivers heaping piles of pasta and other red sauce standards to tables in its dining room and wood-lined bar. Grandma Jean’s, the restaurant’s version of a Sunday gravy, is absolutely teeming with pork ribs, stewed beef, and pepperoni, tossed with penne. Gino’s is one of the only spots in town serving penne alla vodka, given a Portland twist with Mama Lil’s peppers. And outside the world of pasta, seafood-packed cioppino is a favorite among the restaurant’s decades-loyal regulars.

Pastificio d’Oro

This St. Johns pop-up turned restaurant from Chase Dopson and Maggie Irwin isn’t the place for heavily sauced pastas and a lengthy menu of secondi. Here, Dopson focuses intently on his pastas, truly made by hand using rolling pins, knives, and little else. Menus change often and the team only offers a few pastas any given night; some days, that might be super-fine tajarin with a rich ragu; on others, it might be plump little agnolotti, stuffed with roasted veal. Come with friends and order them all.

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. There’s plenty to like in this bright, open industrial space, but it’s usually smart to opt for a pasta or risotto, with meatballs marinara to start. The simple-yet-delicious plate of happy hour puttanesca is hard to beat, especially with a crimson glass of Italian wine in hand.

Bari Food Cart

This Killingsworth food cart specializes in a beloved Italian street food, panzerotti — those unfamiliar can think of it as a God-tier Hot Pocket. Little mini-calzone-shaped turnovers, stuffed with things like fresh mozzarella or Italian sausage, pop in the fryer, emerging crispy on the outside and melty-gooey on the inside. Order a few, as well as a slice of cake if on offer that day.

Dame

This Killingsworth restaurant collective has received plenty of buzz for its recent residencies — Mexican concept Clandestino, in particular, plus its other concepts down the street at Lil’ Dame — but the standard Italian menu at the restaurant, available Thursdays through Sundays, is nothing to ignore. Sitting in a sapphire blue dining room, meals start with silky seasonal soups, transitioning to impeccably executed pastas. Cacio e pepe, retaining its bite, captures the right balance of black pepper and Grana Padano in a sauce that coats each noodle beautifully. Squid ink pasta swims with marinated shrimp and seductively spicy tomato sauce. Pair any of them with a wine from owner Jane Smith’s exceptional list.

Gabbiano’s

This self-identified Italian American restaurant churns out all the greatest hits — spaghetti and pork-and-beef meatballs; hubcap-sized chicken Parm, fried crispy and topped with mozz; piles of fried calamari with a briny caper aioli. The restaurant is particularly shrewd in where it strays from the original, however, adding roasted poblanos to an alfredo or infusing Campari with sun-dried tomatoes for a Negroni. The fried mozzarella here is a marvel in engineering, sort of a fried mozzarella shot glass filled with marinara.

Gumba

Previously Portland’s best Italian food cart, Gumba has moved inside, taking over the space previously home to Aviary. Gumba’s take on Italian food is intentionally loose, happily incorporating menu items like fry bread or tossing spaghetti with celery root cream and sumac-candied shallots. Menus regularly change, but visitors will often find thick strips of al dente pappardelle topped with aromatic beef sugo on the menu — it’s a must-order. For dessert, opt for inventive treats like eggplant caramel olive oil cake.

Sorbu Paninoteca

This Cully food cart is likely the only spot in town serving torta di ceci, a chickpea flour flatbread. Here, it arrives in a sandwich, layered with grilled eggplant and optional mozzarella (if you eat dairy, add the mozzarella). However, the full, seasonal menu at Sorbu is worth exploration, be it a decadent porchetta sandwich slathered in anchovy mayo, sourdough ciabatta loaded with saffron-and-tomato-braised lamb shoulder, or a smooth carrot soup finished with sumac oil.

Tartuca

The romantic vibes of this Mississippi Italian restaurant fit the menu, where meals begin with oysters on the half shell and end with amaro. Menus change frequently here, but they always involve some lovely pastas — radiatori trapping a layered Bolognese between its folds, twists of gemelli bolstered with black garlic. Pizzas arrive with ribbons of prosciutto or nonchalant dabs of herby salsa verde, also available gluten-free for those in need. Salads often incorporate produce from the Pacific Northwest; they’re worth an order, regardless of season.

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, tossing little gems with Caesar or gently stirring risotto with roasted seasonal mushrooms. Pasta is often the move here, be it penne with Chianti-and-espresso braised beef or spaghetti with clams and sausage, and the restaurant’s wine cellar is well-stocked with potential pairings. Next door, the restaurant’s sibling knocks out some next-level pastas and salads, as well.

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, opening a focaccia shop in Southeast Portland as well; however, dinner at the casual Italian cafe and bistro remains a favorite for neighborhood locals. While the restaurant does offer seasonally rotating pastas, going for the comfort food stalwarts is the move here: delicate tajarin with truffle butter and piles of parmesan, lumache alla vodka bolstered with hot Italian sausage, mafaldine Bolognese, with beef and pork catching itself in the ridges of the pasta. 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.

A bowl fo spaghetti sits on a table next to a glass of red wine.
A bowl of pasta at Montelupo.
Montelupo

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 selection of fresh pasta dishes — cappelletti float in an elegant, profound broth, hearty and meaty baked pasta 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 antipasti are often worth an order, a range of flavorful marinated vegetables and crostini. 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.

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 sandwiches layered with oil-poached tuna or Sweetheart ham. It also offers salads, the city’s best 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. Menus change daily, but most nights see diners crowded under the lanterns hanging from vaulted ceilings as plate after plate of buttery tomato sauce-coated pasta, steaming platters of Bolognese, and hearty entrees like seared scallops with parsnip-celeriac puree 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.

Lilla

Pulling off vegan Italian food is exceptionally tricky; so many dishes lean on a snowy pile of cheese, a binding egg yolk, luscious rendered pork fat. That’s what makes this tiny Italian restaurant on Southeast Madison so special — all of its pizzas, handmade pastas, meatballs, and risotto are animal product free. Skip the pizzas in favor of the restaurant’s pastas, which range from curls of orecchiette coated in an earthy, sweet sun-dried tomato pesto to pasta Bolognese swapping the beef and pork for textured vegetable protein. For dessert, a mind-boggling panna cotta is the move.

Il Terrazzo

Waterfront dining is not a huge thing in Portland, but this riverside restaurant is a nice spot to unwind over a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. Menus do change periodically, though the restaurant’s six-hour-simmered Bolognese is a stalwart popular among Southwest Portlanders. Pasta is the move here, in particular a sunny-hued saffron ravioli, if available; finish with the restaurant’s knockout tiramisu.

Related Maps

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 pancetta. Grab a Negroni at the bar; this is a fun spot to dine solo, if that’s your thing.

Gino's

Gino’s is some Old Portland realness. This Sellwood restaurant, almost always packed with neighborhood locals, delivers heaping piles of pasta and other red sauce standards to tables in its dining room and wood-lined bar. Grandma Jean’s, the restaurant’s version of a Sunday gravy, is absolutely teeming with pork ribs, stewed beef, and pepperoni, tossed with penne. Gino’s is one of the only spots in town serving penne alla vodka, given a Portland twist with Mama Lil’s peppers. And outside the world of pasta, seafood-packed cioppino is a favorite among the restaurant’s decades-loyal regulars.

Related Maps