Every so often I come across a restaurant that, despite tons of great reviews, I feel the need to be cliche and add to the already, over-the-top positivity that is out there. I mean, who in Portland hasn't either heard of or eaten at Nostrana? Well, this isn't likely news to many, but when dinner comes so well prepared and in such a great atmosphere (and at prices that are not ridiculous), it just merits some ink. Such is the case with Nostrana, the authentic, Italian eatery that finds its home in close-in SE Stumptown.
I have had the luxury of eating at Nostrana twice now, both times with my family of four. Yep, that means we had our two girls, ages 2 and 5, classing up the place! And while you don't see tons of little ones at the finer restaurants around town, there were quite a few on-hand both of the times we visited as we at at the opening hour of 5 p.m. Plenty of other parents thinking the same...get dinner done early with plenty of time left for a decent bedtime. Well, let's just say that a belly full of Nostrana makes all those nighttime duties so, so much easier ;).
The menu changes at Nostrana, but I can definitely report on the few items I've tasted and come to love. First, as both of my kids are lovers of pizza, the wood-fired pie at Nostrana is to die for. Thinner in crust, the sauce is old-world and the mix of cheeses takes it to a new level. Nostrana's pizza should be on the short list for anyone who likes this particular dish. Of course, I haven't gotten to try out their "gourmet" pizzas, which feature a variety of different sauces and toppings. No, I've been limited to cheese...but darn that cheese is good!
The first meal I enjoyed was the Gnocchi with Rogue smokey gorgonzola cream, walnut roasted sibley squash and aged balsamico. What can I say here other than 5-stars. Al dente perfection awaits with flavors through the roof. Secondly I had the Smoky Rotisserie Chicken with spicy onion relish, mashed potatoes alla parmigiana and braised kale. O.K. Who orders chicken in a fancy restaurant? Well, I did and do (sometimes) and let's just say I've never tasted better chicken in my life. I mean...it's that good. In fact, if you go for the pasta (can't go wrong) just do yourself a favor and get one of the roasted chicken entrees to place in the center of the table for sharing. You will be happy indeed.
In business since 2005, Chef/Owner Cathy Whims has been nominated for the highly-coveted James Beard Award a total of six, yes six, times. Often seen at the restaurant, Cathy's expertise is seen, tasted and enjoyed in every single dish. Enjoy!
Nostrana is located at: 1401 SE Morrsion St ste 101, Portland, OR 97214
See their website here: www.nostrana.com
Hours: M-F 11:30-2 pm (lunch), then Re-opens at 5 p.m., closes at 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Fri/Sat.)