Nostrana

Nostrana might be one of Portland’s prettiest, most popular high-end restaurants, and Cathy Whims might be one of the city’s most prolific chefs (even recently earning a James Beard Award Nomination for Best Chef NW), and the meticulously assembled Italian-centric wine list might have you surreptitiously pulling out your iPhone and Googling a map of Italy and an Italian dictionary, but it’s hard to feel intimidated by the impressiveness of it all when you’re surrounded by roosters.

rooster-small-illustrationThe roosters are stuffed of course, nobody wants a bunch of real roosters running around scaring customers and drinking the good Scotch, but they add a touch of whimsy to shiny lofty-ceilinged Nostrana, reflecting the down to earth rustic Italian cuisine on the menu.

There are roosters pecking beneath the big Italian country feast tapestry on the back wall, roosters guarding the hootch at the glossy L-shaped bar, and roosters watching you with their sharp little black eyes as you tear into your chewy, delightfully blistery-crusted wood-fired pizza. (And I do mean “tear into,” because Nostrana has held firmly to their “we make it, you cut it” policy despite the howls of protest throughout the years.)

The roosters are stuffed of course, nobody wants a bunch of real roosters running around scaring customers and drinking the good Scotch, but they add a touch of whimsy to shiny lofty-ceilinged Nostrana, reflecting the down to earth rustic Italian cuisine on the menu.

Influenced by her own personal travels, love affair with all food Italian, and experience at legendary Genoa, Chef Cathy Whims assembles a menu that is often mentioned for its delicious wood-fired pizzas but is just as notable for its other sumptuous dishes, which might include the charcuterie plate, cannellini bean and olive oil-poached Albacore tuna salad, farfalle primavera with fava beans and house pancetta, or Cattail Creek lamb and ricotta crepe with carrots agrodolce and mint. For dessert, please don’t leave without ordering the heavenly butterscotch budino with salted caramel sauce. Or, order three butterscotch budinos with salted caramel sauce. I think the roosters would approve.

Details

Cuisine: Italian

Executive Chef: Cathy Whims

Atmosphere: A regal but warm dining room with a wood-burning oven, one of the city's best bars, and a serious rooster population

Outdoor seating: Yes, a very nice patio

Best Seat: On the patio, or at the bar

Noise Level: Energetic-Boisterous

Bring the Kids: Yes

Bathrooms: Behind the wood pile, watch out for spiders if you have to stand and wait.

Parking: Nostrana is located in a small shopping center, and patrons are welcome to park in the lot. If the lot is full, street parking is free and easy to find.

Cocktails: A full bar and excellent house cocktails

Beer: A dozen or so diverse beers, including Peroni, Moretti, Pilsner Urquell, Hoegaarden, and quite a few domestic beers ($4), non-alcoholic Paulaner Thomas Brau ($4)

Wine: A first rate wine list filled with Italian and Oregon sparklies, roses, whites and reds

Corkage: $20 per 750mL, bottles must not be on Nostrana's wine list

Teetotalers: IBC root beer, Cock 'n Bull ginger brew, Duche de Longueville sparkling apple cider

Coffee: Stumptown

Tea: Foxfire

Vegetarian Friendly: Yes

Vegan Friendly: Yes

Good for the following occasions: Out With Friends, Family Meal, Casual Date, Girls Night Out

Group/Private Party Details: Parties of up to 12 when ordering off the regular menu, and larger parties with a limited menu

Reservations: Yes

Take-Out: Yes

Delivery: No