Penne for Your Thoughts? Mull It Over at These Italian Restaurants in Portland

November 5, 2020
Food & Drink
jason wolfe

If there’s one thing Portland is well-known for, it’s probably either their beer or their affinity for providing plenty of vegan options for the people who need them. Something they do especially well, though, is Italian food. Whether you’re just looking for something to satisfy those cravings you’ve been having for some spaghetti bolognese for a while or you’re looking for something truly authentic - homemade pasta included - Portland’s got a little bit of everything to keep you satiated. These are some of our favorites.

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There’s no way that you would ever struggle to find a good Italian restaurant somewhere in Portland, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know where to start. It’s no secret that Italian food abounds around here, but if you’re hoping to find the best of the best where you can still dine on a budget, that’s where we come in. GiftYa is dedicated to helping you find the best restaurants around while still helping you to save a pretty penny with their e-gift cards. Order one for yourself or a friend today and you just might be able to enjoy a meal out at one of these restaurants at no cost to you!

Piazza Italia

Italian food should look just as good as it tastes, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Piazza Italia. Image courtesy of Piazza Italia Instagram

1129 NW Johnson St | Pearl District | piazzaportland.com

Every origin story deserves a party. While the original conception of Piazza Italia wasn’t exactly a party, the final culmination of everything that went into its grand opening back in the year 2000 was a celebration that would carry on for years to come. 

The mere idea of Piazza Italia came about because an Italian immigrant and his good friend who spent a lot of time with Italian relatives growing up were faced with a slight problem: they couldn’t find any Italian food in the city that lived up to the authentic fare they experienced as children.

When the restaurant finally opened, it opened with a block party  that closed off an entire street that people still talk about today - and thus some of the best Italian food to be found in Portland came around. From paninis to bolognese to pizzas, mouth watering Italian food is waiting for you here.

“The pasta is simple yet flavorful, and the closest local Italian place I've found to authentic food in Italy...if you manage to make it here in the fall the pumpkin cheesecake is next level and is an absolute must!” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa to Piazza Italia >

Grassa

Have your mac n’ cheese and eat it too. Image courtesy of Grassa Instagram

1205 SW Washington St | Downtown | grassapdx.com

At first glance the industrial style interior of this Downtown restaurant might not seem like the kind of place that would offer up some of the most delicious, hot Italian meals in Portland, but that’s exactly the kind of place that it is.

As they describe themselves. Grassa seems like the kind of place you might go to in order to touch up a fading tattoo or to listen to some “stoner-rock.” While you will actually hear that stoner-rock playing out of their turntables around the restaurant, what they’re really there for is to bring you an authentic Italian meal.

Cold and bland on the surface with its primarily grey and black interior, Grassa’s ambiance actually serves to create a beautiful contrast to the warm and colorful meals that they serve up for patrons on a daily basis. Stop in to treat yourself to some of the best Italian cuisine in town!

“Love love love this place...I loved watching the kitchen staff making fresh pasta right in front of my eyes as we were waiting for our food to come.” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa to Grassa >

Mucca Osteria

Garnish is what brings the dishes to life at Mucca Osteria. Image courtesy of Mucca Osteria Instagram

1022 SW Morrison St | Downtown | muccaosteria.com

Looking for an Italian restaurant that will pay attention to every little detail? At Mucca Osteria, they don’t just cook up some of the most delicious Italian fare in the city - they also show off their attention to detail through their presentation, their service, and, most importantly, the experience they provide for you.

Whether you’re swinging by for something classic, such as their Tagliatelle Bolognese, or something a little outside of the dishes you might be used to, such as their Pesce del Giorno, you’ll find nothing short of near-perfection with every dish they place in front of you.

They’re more than willing to make any adjustments to their dishes to fit your specific dietary needs, and you can also always find a helping hand where you may not even expect it. 

They’re known for taking small things you’ve mentioned, such as wanting to split some dishes, and going above and beyond to make that happen for you, such as serving the dishes across multiple plates.

“This place deserves five stars and then some. I can't recall a better Italian meal I have had, and that is including a recent trip to Italy, and dining at nearly every notable Italian Restaurant in SF.” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa to Mucca Osteria >

La Buca

Who knew you could find a casual Italian bistro right in Portland? Image courtesy of La Buca Instagram.

40 NE 28th Ave | Kerns | labucaitaliancafe.com

Italian cuisine is well-known for being associated with fine dining that winds up being a little too far outside of what you’d consider comfortable in your budget. If you’re hoping to find a local Italian restaurant that’s a bit more on the side of casual than fine dining, La Buca is the place to go.

As a self-proclaimed cafe, they offer up everything on a more casual scale. From their Fettuccini Alfredo to their Chicken Marsala, everything here is served up in one of the most casual environments in town. 

Located amidst a strip of storefronts in Kerns, you can look out the front windows of the restaurant and watch the people strolling by while you wait for your food to arrive - and don’t forget to sip on one of their delicious cocktails in the meantime!

“This has to be one of my favorite restaurants I've stumbled upon in Oregon. Even when it's busy I haven't had to wait very long to get a table. I've tried several dishes from here and they are all delicious.” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa to La Buca >

Allora

Wine isn’t always best served in a stemmed glass - you can also enjoy it cooked down into a delectable sauce at Allora! Image courtesy of Allora Instagram

504 NW 9th Ave | Pearl District | allorapdx.com

In English, "non e statae colpa mia" roughly translates to “it wasn’t my fault,” and that’s been the precise recurring motto here at the Pearl District’s Allora. The incarnation that they’ve taken on today is what we’ll gladly refer to as a happy accident. 

When Allora was first established in 2003, it was only really meant to be a coffee and wine bar, but over time, it slowly began to develop into a full-service restaurant that serves up some of the best Italian food you’ll find in Portland - and maybe along the west coast. 

Directly translated, “Allora” means something along the lines of “therefore,” and we think that might just be the perfect name for this restaurant. They serve up some pretty delicious Italian cuisine; therefore, we think you should do everything possible to make a trip out here as soon as you can.

“I want to live here. I mean, who wouldn't want to live somewhere that serves the most delicious Italian food for miles around. Allora is dreamy, intimate and the place you want to take a date.” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa to Allora >

Renata

Wood fired pizza? Our taste buds are tingling. Image courtesy of Renata Instagram

626 SE Main St | Central Eastside| renatapdx.com

Restaurants are one of the key ingredients to a happy and healthy community, so if you’re hoping to be able to support a restaurant that will do everything in its power to support you in turn, you’ll definitely want to make a special trip out to Renata.

Located in Central Eastside, Renata is a big believer in that old phrase “what goes around comes around.” It’s their hope that by putting some good out into the world - whether that be in the form of delicious food or community service, they’ll be able to receive some good in return and then to continue the cycle from there.

They prefer to source all of their ingredients from local farmers, which means you can be pretty sure that the food you’re putting into your stomach isn’t just delicious; it’s also great for you! Everything is cooked over a wood fire here, so when we say that the food here is authentic, we really mean it.

“Everything we had here was delicious. From the focaccia bread to the handmade pasta all of the food was wonderful! They also have CBD drops that they can add to any drink it made for a relaxing and tasty dinner.” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa to Renata >

Need to get your Italian fix - and soon? These are some of the best Italian restaurants in Portland. Let us know which one has your new go-to pasta dish in the comments down below!

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