This North Portland restaurant is so comfortable that when I dine here I almost feel like I’m eating at a good neighbor’s house–a neighbor who is a trained chef and enviably-skilled do-it-yourselfer, a neighbor whose Sunset Magazine-worthy garden and patio puts my tiny backyard patch of moss-drowned brick and weed-choked “lawn” to shame.

A neighbor like Chef Matthew Busetto, who—along with his wife Elizabeth, a Naturopathic Physician whose practice occupies the second floor of the building—lovingly restored and refurbished historic Firehouse 29 to its former glory in 2007, installing a wood-fired oven and rotisserie, uncovering the original brick walls and wide wooden beams, building the bar and furniture from reclaimed wood, laying an elegant stone patio, and planting the lush garden that surrounds the building.

When I dine here I almost feel like I’m eating at a good neighbor’s house–a neighbor who is a trained chef and enviably-skilled do-it-yourselfer, with a Sunset Magazine-worthy garden.

As a result, Firehouse has ambiance in spades, the sleekly rustic aesthetics melding seamlessly with a friendly, laid-back atmosphere that renders it versatile for all occasions, be it a quiet midweek meal with your sweetheart, sun-soaked summer afternoon happy hour, or boisterous Saturday night family supper.

The menu showcases the garden’s bounty in simple, satisfying dishes like fried cauliflower with lemon creme fraiche, meatballs with tomato and basil-braised green beans, thyme-rubbed rotisserie chicken joined by a salad of garden lettuces, and wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas topped with house made meats, fresh mozzarella, and seasonal vegetables, all of which pairs quite nicely with a bottle of wine from the affordable, predominantly Italian wine list.

Yes, the Firehouse is the kind of neighbor everyone wants to be friends with. Now, if only they had a pool.


Cuisine: Italian

Executive Chef: Matthew Busetto

Owner: Matthew and Elizabeth Busetto

Pastry Chef: Gretchen Glatte

Atmosphere: Cozy, warm brick and wood space with several different dining pockets and a majestic outdoor garden patio; crowd is mostly neighborhood folk, making for a relaxed, friendly vibe

Outdoor seating: Yes, a gorgeous garden patio, and a few tables out front by the kitchen's roll up door

Best Seat: Right across from the kitchen, it's fun to watch the pizza oven and rotisserie in action...or, on the dreamy patio

Noise Level: Boisterous when full, but you can still hear your dining companion; quiet on the patio

Dress Code: Casual

Bring the Kids: Yes

Bathrooms: Back of the dining room against the wall

Parking: Street parking is free and easy to find

Cocktails: Yes

Beer: Three draft beers, about a dozen bottled

Wine: Yes, Italian-centric list, by the glass ($8-$10) and bottle ($25-$60)

Teetotalers: Housemade ginger or vanilla soda, blue flower earl grey iced tea

Coffee: Stumptown

Tea: Tao of Tea

Ideal Meal: Beets with salsa verde, fried cauliflower with lemon creme fraiche, romaine salad, housemade fennel sausage pizza, rotisserie chicken, seasonal fruit tart

Vegetarian Friendly: Yes

Good for the following occasions: Dinner With Friends, Date Night, Family Supper, Dining Al Fresco, Pizza Night

Group/Private Party Details: Available for private luncheons, private dinners, and standing receptions in upstairs dining room as well as full restaurant buyouts seven days a week, call 503.789.7953 or email

Reservations: Yes, call 503.954.1702 or reserve online at Open Table