Yes, I know, Ital­ian. Not low carb. But actu­ally not too high carb. And besides, you have to let your­self indulge a lit­tle or else you go crazy being too strict.

Por­to­bello offi­cially opened in Port­land a cou­ple of months ago and for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons Jim and I had not yet made it there, so we set a date with a friend to tan­ta­lize our taste buds last Sat­ur­day night. I knew that the chef, Aaron Adams, is amaz­ing so I went with an empty stom­ach to fill. A few years ago Junior’s Diner was doing the vegan din­ner club nights that Aaron cooked for, so if you attended any of those, that should give you an idea of what is in store at Portobello.

Port­land has been in des­per­ate need of a nice-but-not-too-nice restau­rant, one where you could go on a real date, but not feel under dressed in your best jeans. Por­to­bello def­i­nitely offers that with nice ambiance, excel­lent music (two songs by my favorite musi­cian who nobody knows rotated through, which earned extra points for cool­ness) and of course the qual­ity of the food was out of this world.

Por­to­bello is served with family-style eat­ing in mind, but not crazy Buca de Beppo fam­ily style, more real­is­tic fam­ily style. We’re talk­ing real Ital­ian food, not just a bunch of vari­a­tions on carbs with pasty tomato sauce slapped on top like most Amer­i­can­ized Ital­ian food, real art­ful cui­sine to savor. There are appe­tiz­ers, veg­gie side dishes and main courses. There were three of us, so we opted to get a bunch of small main dishes and a side of gar­licky broccolini.

Garlicky Broccolini

Gar­licky Broccolini

The broc­col­ini was good, crisp and gar­licky. I am a broc­col­ini fiend, if I could afford to eat it daily, I would be the broc­col­ini equiv­a­lent of Diann.

My first pick was the Truf­fled Por­to­bello Cannelloni.

Truffled Portobello Cannelloni

Truf­fled Por­to­bello Cannelloni

OMG. Two herbed crepes stuffed with roasted por­to­bello and shal­lots with truf­fle essence. Each bite was un petit mort of the mouth (yes, I know that’s French). The crepe was so deli­cious on its own that I could have eaten a plate of those, but paired with the fra­grant, por­to­bello fill­ing, it was absolute heaven.


This is the “Spaghetti and Meat­ball”, in quotes because by tra­di­tional stan­dards, it is nei­ther. The noo­dles are zuc­chini in a tomato-basil sauce with a giant faux-meatball on top. I seem to have hit-or-miss luck with places and their veg­gie noo­dles, but this was an absolute hit and I have no idea what was in that meat­ball, but it was amazing!

Herbed Potato Gnocchi with Pesto

Herbed Potato Gnoc­chi with Pesto

These herbed gnoc­chi took the meal over-the-top. Served with caramelized fen­nel, broc­col­ini, toma­toes and basil-hazelnut pesto, they were the most ten­der, herbed lit­tle bites of per­fec­tion I have ever tasted. I have a soft spot for gnoc­chi, I’m not going to lie, but these were really phenomenal.

Roast Pumpkin Cappellacci

Roast Pump­kin Cappellacci

While my heart strug­gled back and forth between the Por­to­bello Can­nel­loni and the Herbed Gnoc­chi, the silent star in it’s own right was the sim­ple look­ing Roast Pump­kin Cap­pel­lacci. The preg­nantly stuffed pasta was topped with an incred­i­ble cashew cream sauce, fresh sage and hazel­nuts and left us all bat­tling over the last piece. It had such com­plex fla­vors and tasted like a high class com­fort food.

Of course, there is dessert.

Apple Tart

Apple Tart

Apple Tart. Deli­cious, the crust was per­fect and the apples had just the right tex­ture. No com­plaints what­so­ever, but it was a lit­tle over­shad­owed by it’s counterparts.

Chocolate Tart

Choco­late Tart

This lit­tle guy had my friend and I nearly sword fight­ing with our forks. The most flaky and but­tery crust I have ever tasted in my life, filled with a rich choco­late, mixed with nuts, and topped with a sprin­kling of coarse salt and a hint of freshly chopped rose­mary. Unbe­liev­ably good, and I am one who is leery of herbs in sweets, but whoa.



The win­ner of the night, though, was the tiramisu! Vegan freak­ing tiramisu! I have had vegan tiramisu in the past and it’s been okay, but this was sub­lime. The marscapone cream was bet­ter than any marscapone I can ever remem­ber tast­ing. I sat there try­ing to ana­lyze it with my expert palette and it had me stumped. It was amaz­ing. The tex­ture, the fla­vor, all three of us where ooing and ahing while we devoured it.

The other great thing about Por­to­bello– the price. It’s super rea­son­able (we ate all of that food, which had 3 peo­ple with good appetites stuffed to the gills for less than $41!), you are sup­port­ing an awe­some chef and it’s vegan Ital­ian! What are you wait­ing for? I’m so excited that there are options on the menu so that Jim and I can go and eat an amaz­ing meal that is fairly low carb and not com­pletely break our diet… at least not until dessert. :)

They share space with Cel­lar Door Cof­fee Roast­ers in SE. Por­to­bello– 2001 SE 11th Ave, at 11th and Har­ri­son, open Wednes­day through Sat­ur­day, 5:30 to 10:30.


0 Responses to portobello vegan trattoria– a review

  1. Sandy says:

    I had such a lovely night with the both of you! I agree with your blog–just a won­der­ful, superb, tasta­l­i­cious restau­rant! Yeah for vegan pasta dishes and tiramasu!

  2. Vegetation says:

    Oh that all looks sen­sa­tional! I am so ter­ri­bly jeal­ous of such deli­cious­ness! And I too am a broc­col­ini fiend. I’m embar­rassed to say that despite watch­ing our pen­nies, it’s the one veg­etable that we do eat almost every day.…mmmmm.

    • krispycheks says:

      Oh, I just love it, too. I think it com­pletely kicks reg­u­lar broccoli’s butt. I didn’t even know if existed until about a year ago and now they sell it every­where in the States.

  3. DJ Karma says:

    Tell them to PLEASE open one of those in Davis, CA!! My eyes are bug­ging out — wish I had the recipes to all of that!

  4. jumbleberryjam says:

    OMG! That is SO at the top of my list when we get home. In fact, we may just have to drive through just so we can go (hmm…what to do with the kidlet? oh, well. we’ll fig­ure it out). Thanks for a amaz­ing review (and that choco­late tart is MINE)

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  6. Bethany says:

    I’m hav­ing Port­land envy. must get in car and drive…