Gallo Nero Trattoria – Florentine Style All the Way

Dinner at Gallo Nero was a treat from one of my chicas and I was in charge of looking for a restaurant. After some research, I found out that the owner and the chef of Gallo Nero are both Italian, Tuscan to be exact. If you want to enjoy Italian cuisine…you gotta do how the Italians do and have an Italian chef cook for you. Living in Europe for 3 years spoiled my taste buds, so I look for authentic food wherever I go.

In front of Gallo Nero Trattoria in Portland, OR
In front of Gallo Nero Trattoria in Portland, OR

Gallo Nero is located in the heart of Pearl District in Portland where tons of other posh and trendy restaurants reside. It has a small outdoor sitting area along with its elegant indoor sitting arrangements. The place is not that big and reservation is highly recommended, even if it’s a weekday night. But just be ready to park on the street since most of the eateries in Pearl District don’t have their own parking spots.

My Gnocchi al pomodoro and Pici al sugo at Gallo Nero
My Gnocchi al pomodoro and Pici al sugo at Gallo Nero

The menu of Gallo Nero is very Florentine style. With poricini mushrooms bruschetta for appetizer, mouth-watering salad and soup choices, home made pastas, gnocchi, risotto, typical Tuscan flavored meat and fish, gelato, tiramisu, affogato, and other items, this place rocks for their authentic dishes. Keep one thing in mind though, the plates are not your typical American size…they are much smaller and very proportioned. I ordered select 2 pastas where I chose gnocchi and spaghetti with meat sauce. When I was done, I was still hungry and could finish a whole Big Mac. Thank God, that my little girl couldn’t finish her pasta with seafood…I ended up having her plate too.

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare at Gallo Nero
Spaghetti ai frutti di mare at Gallo Nero

If you are looking for an up-scale Italian restaurant with good quality food with your friends and family to celebrate a special occasion in the heart of Pearl District, I would highly…I mean, HIGHLY recommend this place. It’s good food all the way. The best part is the price is reasonable.

Torta Di Mele  apple torte served warm with gelato at Gallo Nero, Portland
Torta Di Mele apple torte served warm with gelato at Gallo Nero, Portland


La Leña – Peruvian Restaurant & Rotisserie

We just got back from Peru after a week long vacation. Other than it’s rich history, beautiful landscape, colorful culture, friendly locals, and attractive hand-crafts, I absolutely fell in love with the Peruvian cuisine. I was missing the flavors and freshness of their dishes after coming back to The States. So, last Friday, we decided to check out a brand new Peruvian restaurant in Portland, La Leña, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’m thankful that everyone took my suggestions and agreed to try it. More than that I was happy it didn’t disappoint us at all.

La Leña is a casual yet stylish restaurant in Portland on Hawthorn Blvd. They don’t take any reservations but with it’s fairly nice size, our group of 7 did manage to find tables on a busy Friday night. The price is very reasonable and no need to wait in long line to order. And our beautifully presented dishes were delivered pretty fast too, considering only one chef was actually cooking.

Alright, now let’s come to food. So, we tried alpaca meat in Peru (though my little one wasn’t too happy about it, but aye, I am a foodie and gotta try new stuff), I was REALLY hoping to get those here (?). But ok, they don’t have alpaca steak or grilled guinea pig at La Leña but they had almost everything else that we ate in different parts of Peru. Some of those that I found here are ceviche, Ají de Gallina, pollo a la brasa, lomo saltados, salsa criolla, chicha morada, fresh juice, and Inca Cola just to name a few from the menu. And they all tasted really good. Best ones would probably be pollo a la brasa and lomo saltados, very close to what I had in Peru. They ran out of fresh fish to make ceviche, so couldn’t try it…but the chef offered me he’ll give me a free plate of ceviche next time I go there (a happy customer right here). Make sure to order salsa criolla and their hot sauce with every dish to kick up a notch. Inca Cola tasted slightly different but their fresh juice and chicha morada (a purple corn juice) were ok.

Lomo Saltados in La Leña, Portland
Lomo Saltados in La Leña, Portland

We didn’t try any dessert because we were just too full with our perfectly proportioned plates but to finish off everything, try their Peruvian coffee.

One of my friend's dish - Ají de Gallina
One of my friend’s dish – Ají de Gallina

Before I finish, I got to add one extra thing here about La Leña. The customer service here was extraordinary from the minute we entered the place. The chef himself came and apologized for not being able to serve us ceviche. The waiter and waitress made our friend’s birthday eve a special one with their willingness to do every arrangement to make that it a wonderful one.  A++ all the way.

Nicholas Restaurant Broadway

Wow, another brand new idea and another brand new blog. A foodie like me, needs to record all the eateries in her city. So…there you go Portland, I present to you Portland Culinary. My plan is to cover all types of restaurants and cafe in Portland, Oregon, from street side carts to roof-tops’ exquisite fine dinning places and share my experience along the way. I have been planning to do it for a while now…finally did it. Yep, let’s…get… started.

So, for the first post…we went to Nicholas Restaurant Broadway on NE Broadway Street this past Saturday with few friends and families. This is a Lebanese/ Middle-Eastern restaurant with excellent customer service, elegant interior, and DELICIOUS food.

My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad
My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad

We couldn’t find parking close by…had to park couple blocks away. They don’t take reservations but we waited about half an hour for seat (which is not bad for a Saturday night). First floor was jam packed, so we were taken upstairs where it was much quieter…so we kind of had the place to ourselves.

My cousin's Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)
My cousin’s Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)

The unlimited free fresh fluffy breads are on the house…eat as much as you want. The menu has variety options from kebabs (including salmon kebabs), salads, different sauces to go with your breads, sandwiches/burgers, Lebanese pizzas, and platters just to name some. Order came quicklier than I thought.  I ordered beef kafta kabab with jasmine saffron rice with salad and garlic sauce. It was GOOD and the portion was not too big and not too small. My daughter’s Lebanese style beef burger with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce was absolutely fantastic too. We had Vege Mezzas for appetizer which had falafels, hummus, tzatziki sauce, and tabouleh salad. I usually don’t like tabouleh salad in lot of restaurants, but this one was tangy and perfectly balanced. Try their peach lassi and cinnamon/mint tea also. If not good ol’ mango lassi is there too. If are still not full, try the baklava or rice pudding with pistachios (kind of big size though…be careful).

Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway
Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway (upstairs)

This is a great place to celebrate any occasions really, like birthdays, graduation, anniversaries or anything that sort. It has the elegant touch but cozy feelings too. It’s formal enough to host special events but not too formal for families with kids. I loved it and I gotta say I would go back there again and would highly recommend this place to my friends in Portland.

Food and culinary Adventure in Portland, Oregon

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