10 Best and Most Delicious Italian Restaurants in and around Portland, Oregon
By Meagan Shamy
Portland Local Expert
There's a reason Portland has grown into a culinary destination not to be missed and a big part of that reason is the multitude and diversity of the Italian restaurants it has to offer. Whether it's northern Italy cuisine you crave, just pizza, or the fare of southern Italy there's a restaurant in Portland that will go above and beyond in fullfilling your desire. Here in Portland you will find some of the freshest, healthiest Italian cuisine in the Pacific Northwest. Almost every restaurant on our list embraces Portland values by serving organic and free range food from local farmers. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of Portland restaurants. We share the places that are the most recommened, like Piazza Italia in the Pearl District, and we showcase the ones that have proven themselves over time, like iorio in the Hawthorne District. We've included restaurants that are sure to please any budget, like the more affordable Grassa and we've included places that are perfect for a romantic date night like the upscale A Cena Ristorante. Each of the restaurants selected are unique and stand out from the others. You could dine at all of them and have a memorable and delicious experience at all of them.
10 Mama Mia Trattoria
Mama Mia Trattoria is an iconic Portland restaurant that almost every local has eaten at. Mama Mia's dishes out large portions of chicken, veal, and eggplant parmesan, handmade ravioli, lasagna, manicotti, gnocchi and numerous other pastas, pizzas, chicken and seafood dishes, each made from scratch. Mama Mia's is decorated exquisetly and the atmosphere is always fun and lively. They have some of the best waiters in Portland. It's a great place to dine with kids. They also have breakfast and brunch on the weekends where you can delight in a frittata or other specialties. Mama Mia's Trattoria offers an amazing happy hour in their lounge Monday through Saturday 4 PM to 7 PM & Sunday 4 PM -- 10 PM. (503-295-6464)
9 Caffe Mingo
Intimate, unpretentious and eminently popular, this Italian eatery plies diners with authentic cuisine. The food, although not elaborate, is very well prepared and has a strong tendency toward down-home cooking, Italian-style. In short, good organic ingredients produce good entrees. Fresh pastas are adorned with luscious sauces and studded with olives, Italian sausage, shrimp and the like. Roast chicken indicates the kitchen's skill, as do risotto, veal, grilled fish, and (one of the restaurant's best dishes) pasta topped with beef braised in espresso and chianti. Another success is the panna cotta, which elicits constant murmurs of delight. On weekends, be prepared for a wait and for somewhat tight conditions. (503-226-4646, 503-646-6464)
8 a Cena Ristorante
If you are looking for a more upscale Italian restaurant in Portland, then A Cena Ristorante is your place. At A Cena Ristorante you will find an Italian fine dining experience with food made only from fresh ingredients from local Portland farmers. Chef Gabe is always creating new items based on his Italian heritage and what's in season, so check their website before you go to see the current menu. Their large entrees include choices like fish, lobster, gnocchi, pasta, braised pork, agnolotti, and many more. They do have smaller portions available for smaller prices making it a more affordable option. (5032063291)
7 Pazzo Ristorante
The always charming Pazzo Ristorante is truely a taste of Italy right in the heart of Portland at Pioneer Square. They serve Northern Italian cuisine prepared from fresh local ingredients, including seafood, meats, and produce. Here you can dine on pizzas, pastas, salads, steaks, freshly baked bread and more. Pazzo Ristorante is known for having one of the top wine lists in Portland. They have a beautiful bar that serves signature drinks and a fun place to meet up with friends. It's also home to Pazzaria Bakery and Cafe. They bake some of the most mouthwatering breads in the city and serve breakfast daily. (5032281515)
6 Iorio Restaurant
Welcome to heaven at Iorio Restaurant in Portland. Serving up the finest homemade Italian food with the freshest ingredients. All of their food is made fresh daily. Perfect for a romantic dinner or even taking the family out, Iorio features reasonably priced entrées to ensure a culinary experience that is both memorable and affordable. Start with an order of the wild-caught calamari or Oregon cheese plate. For your main course, try the ragout of lamb, featuring a slow roasted lamb with tomato and olive pasta. Ask about the catch of the day, which comes with seasonal organic produce. End you evening with handmade cannoli and an order of warm cookies and milk for the little ones. (503-445-4716)
Portofino has long been a hidden gem over in the Sellwood area. It's a warm and inviting neighborhood restaurant that serves all organic and free range Italian food. Where else could you possibly go to get free range Italian food? At Portofino you will find a wide variety of enjoyable dishes including pork chop, risotto, lasagna, fish, gluten free options,and many more. The wait staff is knowledgeable of the menu and can recommend a perfect wine to compliment your meal. Portofino is the perfect place to catch up with an old friend or have a romantic date with someone special. ((503) 234-8259)
4 Piazza Italia
If you want to feel like you are actually eating in Italy then head over to one of the most popular areas in Portland, the Pearl district, where you will find Piazza Italia. Originally started by an Italian immigrant from Rome who was passionate about bringing authentic Italian food to Portland. His family continues today serving top notch authentic Italian food at fair prices for lunch and dinner. Try the Linguine Squarciarella, Straccetti, or a pizza. No matter what you try it is guaranteed to be good. They also have a deli where you can purchase fresh meats and cheeses. (503-478-0619)
Grassa is a casual Italian eatery that serves handcrafted fresh pasta and features a rotating menu based on seasonal availability. Here the portions are large and affordable. You will find a great variety of pasta here including squid pasta and hazelnut pesto pasta, as well as seasonal salads. You order at the small counter as soon as you walk in. They give you a number and you seat yourselves. There is already silverware, napkins, glasses, and water on the table. They have extremely long tables perfect for larger families. If you have kids with you sit at the kitchen counter where they can watch the food being prepared. They might even get some dough to play with. ((503) 241-1133)
Serratto is a lively and elegant neighborhood restaurant serving authentic and innovative dishes from Italy, France and the greater Mediterranean region. The menu, which changes seasonally, is built around a commitment to using natural meats, the freshest seafood, and locally grown fruits and vegetables. All their portions here are generous. They have a kids menu with many entrees just $5, including a massive kids pizza. They also have some fun drink options for kids like fruit punch. Kids will love sharing the pan seared artichoke appetizer with parents. They offer a wonderful happy hour and kids can dine off the happy hour menu with you. (5032211195)
1 Ava Gene's
Ava Gene's features a Roman inspired menu is simple and rustic with an emphasis on the best local produce and meats grown and raised by Pacific Northwest farmers and ranchers. That is why they feature a seasonal always changing menu. They take a great deal of pride in everything they prepare. Each item is hand made one at a time. From their custom breads to their delectable pastas everything they create is beautiful and delicious. For an entertaining evening sit at the chef's table where you can watch them create each dish. They also have a regional Italian wine list that complements the cuisine as well as craft cocktails. ((971) 229-0571)
About Meagan Shamy
Meagan Shamy is an Oregon resident by choice and thinks Portland is a tremendous city that everyone should visit. Originally a Texas girl. She has lived all around the United States, compliments of the US Air Force. After living in Texas, Mississippi, Oregon, Idaho, Florida, and Nevada, she chose to return to Portland, OR and make it home. Meagan graduated with a History and English degree from the University of Texas. Being a military wife has led her on adventures around the world, including two of her favorite places Honduras and Scotland. Her work can be found on several websites including 10Best.com and TravelingMom.com.
Read more about Meagan Shamy here.