This last 4th of July weekend I traveled to the most Vegan friendly city in America, Portland, Oregon. While I was there I was determined to sample some of that cities great Vegan fare.
When we arrived with no reservations on a Friday night around 6pm. We asked for a table and were told that they were all booked up and the wait would be about an hour and a half unless we wanted to dine at the bar. My party and I where hungry and so we agreed to sit at the bar.
The menu offered a limited amount of plates but this is a Trattoria which in Italy is larger than a cafe but smaller than a full restaurant and so the menu reflected that nicely. The offerings hit some of the traditional Italian fare. Gnocchi, ravioli, manicotti and much more.
They have a tasting menu, for $38, where you choose any three items from the menu and one desert. What else would any self respecting food blogger do than to order the tasting menu while reviewing a restaurant? I was there with two other people, so we all ordered the tasting menu and snuck tastes from each others plates, you know… so I could review a wide variety of their offerings.
We started with a basic kale caesar and an order of roasted rainbow carrots. Both were very good. The ceasar salad dressing was outstanding, they sell it there by the bottle. We were told that the portion sizes where a little smaller because it was the tasting menu size.
In my Italian family gnocchi is the king, the dish of all dishes, served only with pesto and not red sauce, so one of the first things I look for on a menu at an Italian restaurant is the gnocchi and if its served with pesto or red sauce. Portobello serves a gnocchi that is the best I have had this side of my grandmother’s homemade gnocchi. They add a few wonderful twists by first pan crisping the gnocchi leaving it a bit caramelized and crispy on one side as well as adding some finely chopped broccolini and a few cherry tomatoes, wow! It was so good I ate half of it before remembering to snap a photo. (This happens way too often to me it seems).
Seeing manicotti on the menu was a surprise to me because manicotti is mostly cheese and in my opinion is hard to make Vegan and still have that rustic Italian flavor and mouth feel. Well Portobello has done it well. Filled with spinach creamed cauliflower topped in marinara sauce and sprinkled with walnut parmesan.
I also ordered the breaded abalone mushroom with potato celeriac gratin, wilted spinach and dill lemon dressing. It was good but reminded all of us of a piece of English style fish & purple potato chips.
On to the desert.
One of us had the salted caramel sundae. It was salted caramel ice cream, caramels sauce, hot fudge, coconut whipped cream and candied walnuts. It was so good. All the flavors worked so well together and was not too sweet as to make you want to put down the spoon for a break.
We also enjoyed a s’more baked alaska. It was a meringue (made from aquafaba) covered chocolate ice cream with a graham cracker bottom. (It is not on the website menu pic above). Again, another outstanding desert. Spot on!
My understanding is that they change their menu items occasionally. While on Yelp looking at the reviews for Portobello I saw photos (290 of them) of plates that some of which were not offered the day we were there. All in all I will be back again. It was high quality food with friendly service and the only all Vegan Italian restaurant I have seen. 4 and a half stars out of 5.
Yields: 4 Servings
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon ginger minced
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup low sodium Soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted Sesame oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
4 tablespoons red wine
4 each portobello mushroom caps
In a small bowl, mix the Garlic, Ginger and the Tahini together. Stir in the Soy sauce, Sesame oil, sugar and the wine. Stir until well blended.
Cut mushroom caps into 1/2 thick slices and put them in a shallow pan, pour marinade over mushrooms turning to coat mushrooms.
Let marinade for 30 min. turning once. On a grill or in a large skillet cook mushrooms over medium-high heat turning once. (reserve marinade)
Cook until browned and slightly softened about 5 min.
Reduce reserved marinade in a skillet. Drizzle over mushrooms, serve hot.
These are great served with a big mound of garlic mashed potatoes and some broccoli Yummm!