I’m in love with Grassa, handcrafted pasta in northwest Portland.
In fact, the food scene in general right now gives me the same enthusiasm as Will Ferrell in Elf.
Food karma is off the hook for families because what’s hot are open-kitchens, bare-bones dining rooms, a hyper-awareness of sourcing, and a focus on simple, seasonal ingredients. Delicious food. Simple dining rooms. God has answered my prayers.
(Also, yes, it’s true. In Portland you can ask about any ingredient on the menu, and it’s possible to meet the farmer and the furry friends.)
Back to Grassa. Their open seating and order-at-the-register set-up take any hint of snooty out of handmade pasta. Go early for lunch so you can get the quickest turnaround on your order, and snag a seat at the bar in front of the kitchen.
Just look at that rigatoni with pork bolognese. I can’t look away. The pasta is so chewy, the sauce is holding on to all the rigatoni ridges, the meat is rich and shredded….
Italian restaurants are either high-end, or Olive Garden. Sometimes it’s hard to find a place to go with your family. There are Pastini and Bugatti’s family restaurants, and we do love those for a casual Friday night, but both places started with the idea of Olive Garden and notched it up. Grassa started high-end, and then took out the cloth napkins, servers, fancy decor, and reservations.
Sitting at the bar preempted most of my questions. Like, do you make all the pasta in house?
The garlic bread was like dessert for us: soaked in just enough butter and topped with crisped parmesan cheese. And I would definitely get at least two vegetable sides. The roasted squash and shaved zucchini took what I make it home and made it divine.
Agnolotti are little raviolis that are less labor-intensive than traditional ravioli, and have little pockets to catch sauce that are made by the pasta cutter folding over the dough. Chef Rick commented that the cook who invented agnolotti’s ingenious, simple design should probably be president. After the recent shutdown, I would totally vote foodie.
The boys didn’t need crayons with all the pasta-making action happening right in front of us. If I could eat here everyday, I would. But since my discretionary budget won’t allow it, I’ll settle for the pasta-porn slide show on Grassa’s home page.
Please recommend other simple, delicious spots you love!
Oh, and this pic is a gift from K-Pants.
Grassa PDX: 1205 SW Washington St., Portland, OR 97205, open every day.