Local Portland business Attorney, Will Du Val, and his better half, ok, 2/3, Victoria, invited us out for some holiday cheer last night, and their choice was Nostrana, the locavore-oriented Italian place on SE Morrison. It’s always been a hang-out of theirs since the early days of couple-dom (2nd anniversary coming up Jan 1, if you want to send gifts), and I quickly saw why it’s special to them.
With a menu that changes nearly nightly, Nostrana is one of those places which has taken local ingredients to ethnic dish variations, with a vengence, resulting in a wide variety of interesting offerings.
It becomes a study in juxtapositions. One notices this right off, when you enter the cavernous, high-ceiling room, which is huge and intimate at the same time. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy said the wood beams reminded her of an upside-down Noah’s ark. To me, it said “Aspen Apres Ski” motif.
An open bar, kitchen, and the wood burning ovens are the centerpieces of the room.
The menu is limited by seasonal availabilites of ingredients, and that’s not a bad thing. Rather than trying to offer the sun, moon and stars to suit every single diners’ tastes, Nostrana limits what they do, and in turn, that means what they do prepare, they do well.
Interesting starters last nite included garlic roasted cabbage, and a plate of an orange/onion salad. I favored both.
The Du Vals went for the flat iron steaks, prepared, by waitress mandate either “medium rare or rare”, and the result was a wonderfully flavorful piece of beef.
Mrs. BurgerDogBoy went for gnocchi (served only on Thursday nites), with a basil pesto ‘sauce’ that was heavy on the herbs, and light on the sauce, a nice change. Savoring each delicate potato pillow, she opted to bring a big portion of it home, surely destined for the breakfast table this morning.
And, choosing for me, Mrs. BDB ordered a fennel sausage pizza, great cheese, great sauce, larger than I would have suspected, crispy and bubbling out of the wood-fired oven, Neapolitan style.
Undoubtedly one of the best pies Portland has to offer.
I know we’ll be back as the seasons change, to sample more of this chef wunderkind’s masterpieces. I heartily recommend reservations, as the place was jammed early in the evening. We were somehow blessed with the corner booth (no doubt due to the Du Val’s influence in this burg), which was just great, for permitting a view of the entire room and kitchen operation both.
Service? Uneven. But not so much as to dampen the entire experience.
Thanks B and V for sharing a wonderful night, and a place so special to you.
(Yes, I know, I can’t believe I didn’t shoot the pic before taking a slice, either! But it looked sooooooooooo good!)