Posts Tagged ‘Panini’

il Piatto (or Il Piatto, or il piatto … I’m never sure about the whether or not I should capitalize with this restaurant…) is one of my favorite restaurants in Portland.  The food is delicious, but what inspires me most about this place is the surroundings – it is very free in spirit.  From the blue-green European plaster walls and the bold-colored curtains that lend a sense of privacy to each booth, to the antique collectables that line the high shelves throughout the restaurant and the crystal chandeliers that hang from the ceilings:  every decorative touch gives this restaurant a sense of artistic ambiance.  This place really appeals to the artist in me. It is the kind of place that – if I lived close enough – I’d want to visit daily just to sip on some tea and possibly sketch a while in an attempt to capture some of its charm.

Bruschetta

Location:  2348 SE Ankeny in Portland, OR

Order:  Grilled Bruschetta ($9), Rabbit with Polenta ($25)

What I Think:

My husband and I went for lunch, but they allowed me to order from the dinner menu.  It had been years since I’ve had rabbit, and I was really looking forward to trying the rabbit dish at il Piatto.

We ordered the Bruschetta as an appetizer.  Two of the slices were topped with hummus while one was topped more traditionally (or at least, what I would consider to be traditional), with fresh tomatoes, onions and capers.  The fourth piece of grilled toast was topped with a bright green pesto.   My favorite of these was the toast topped with the fresh tomatoes, onions and capers.  The tomatoes tasted as if they were fresh from the garden:  sweet and juicy.

Panini con Pollo

My husband ordered the chicken panini ($9).  The chicken was grilled, and it was juicy and tender.  The portabello mushroom was delicious and meaty.  A tasty sandwich.

But the rabbit!  It was amazing!  My father raised rabbits when I was a teen, and so rabbit was something that we ate pretty often.  Since moving out and on … I think I’ve only had rabbit once.  And I’ve missed it.

The rabbit was perfectly cooked; it had been braised until it was so tender it fell right off the bone!  Based on my experience with eating rabbit in my youth, I would guess that this rabbit was a farm-raised rabbit.  Game rabbits tend to be much tougher and have a strong, wild taste to them.  This meat was sweet and succulent, although because it was cooked on the bone, it did still have a slightly wild taste.

Rabbit Simmered in Wine with Grilled Polenta and Spinach

The sauce that was served with the rabbit was a flavorful, savory sauce.  It had a tart flavor with just a hint of sweetness.  This was an excellent contrast to the sweetness of the meat, as well as the sweet, starchy taste of the polenta.  The polenta was grilled, giving it a crisp exterior with a creamy, soft interior.  A mound of steamed spinach rounded out the plate.  A nice texture to the spinach, not mushy or over-cooked.

My Final Thoughts: 

il Piatto is one of my favorite restaurants in the Portland area.  I love the atmosphere and I love the food.   If you’re in the Portland area, I recommend visiting.  Watch Living Social for deals!

Il Piatto on Urbanspoon

Paccini Restaurant is located in the area of the Portland State University Campus; an area in Portland that exemplifies one of the many things that I love about Portland.  This is no ordinary campus.  It is located in the heart of Portland.  It isn’t like a set apart, dedicated campus area like most college campuses.  It is part of the city itself.  But, I digress…

1/2 order of lasagna

Location:  1717 SW Park Avenue in Portland, OR

Order:  1/2 order Lasagna (with Italian Sausage); Garlic Fries; Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Panini; Slice of Pizza topped with Pepperoni, Sausage and Canadian Bacon.  (My husband and I decided we wanted to try a little bit of a few different things, so we shared each item on the order.) 

What I Think:

The atmosphere of the Paccini Restaurant is very college-lounge-like.  Dimly lit, casual and comfortable, complete with a fireplace in the middle of the dining area and student artwork on the walls.  It is the kind of place that you’d expect to host a poetry reading or a guitar-strumming folk singer.  It seems to be a very popular place amongst students, as we dined there on a Tuesday afternoon and it was quite busy.

Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Panini

The lasagna ($6.00 for 1/2 an order) was quite tasty.  It came with a piece of in-house made focaccia bread that is quite good – lightly seasoned, warm and soft.

Most noteworthy to this taster is that the flavorful sauce of the lasagna was thick and rich with ripe tomato flavor – not at all watery.  There was an abundance of cheese – although I noticed that the ricotta filling was not overdone (which is probably one reason the lasagna wasn’t watery).  The cheese was bubbly and even a little crisp on the edges.  Stretchy!  The noodles were tender without being mushy.  A very well prepared lasagna.

But my favorite entree was the Panini Sandwich ($7.00).  The bread was their focaccia bread that they make in-house and was toasted just right, creating a nice, crunchy crust but still soft and tender on the inside.  Their focaccia bread is seasoned nicely and compliments the Panini quite well.  I chose the Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Panini.  As I ate the sandwich, I couldn’t help but wish that there was a restaurant like this on my college campus back when I was attending; I was a vegetarian back then and this would have been such a satisfying meal.

The cheese was melted and it blended with the Dijonaise sauce so well – these two components gave a thin creaminess to the sandwich.  The basil added a beautiful, fresh element to the sandwich and the tomato was deliciously ripe and sweet.  The red onion gave the sandwich a pleasant crunch and just enough zing.  This sandwich had the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Both the sandwich and the lasagna came with a small side salad composed of baby mixed greens and a tomato slice, sprinkled generously with Parmesan cheese.  The sandwich was crisp and fresh, but, it was a little over-dressed for my liking.

Garlic Fries

Of the three entrees, the slice of pizza ($4.25 for a slice of pizza and a soft drink) was our least favorite.  This slice seemed to be a slice of cheese pizza that had been baked off prior to our arrival and waiting in a heating unit … and then topped with pepperoni, sausage and Canadian bacon after we ordered it.  It wasn’t bad, but it was quite average and I guess we had higher hopes for it – and sadly, it failed to deliver.

The side of Garlic Fries ($4.00) more than made up for my pizza disappointment.  They were fresh out of the fryer:  perfectly cooked with a crisp exterior and a tender interior.  The fries on the top were did not taste strongly of garlic.  The garlic taste was there… it just wasn’t strong.  But as we made our way to the center of the order of fries, we could see chunks of fresh garlic.  YUM!  I do love garlic!  The garlic was pungent and just a little on the hot side.  Perfect.  These fries would not be the ideal choice if you’re on a date – but they certainly would be a great to snack on after class.

My Final Thoughts:

As I said before, this is the kind of restaurant I would have only been too happy to have on my own college campus back when I attended:  good food and a casual, inviting atmosphere.  I do recommend avoiding the “slice of pizza” offerings, and instead opt for a whole pizza or perhaps something else from the menu.

Paccini on Urbanspoon