Taste Unique

After a long grueling day at work, sometimes the idea of going home and cooking dinner seems about as far-fetched as the possibility of flying to Orvieto for dinner at my favorite little Italian trattoria.

Fortunately, when I’m in desperate need of an exquisitely fresh pre-prepared Italian dinner that tastes and smells deliciously homemade (if my Umbrian grandmother was cooking, that is), I’ve got Taste Unique.

Fortunately, when I’m in desperate need of an exquisitely fresh pre-prepared Italian dinner that tastes and smells deliciously homemade (if my Umbrian grandmother was cooking, that is), I’ve got Taste Unique, the go-to destination in times of “It’s 6:30pm and I have no idea what to make for dinner nor the desire to so much as touch a pan” need.

Describing their venture as “somewhere between a bistro and a deli,” owners and husband & wife team Stefania Toscano and Lawrence McCormick offer strikingly authentic lasagnas, risottos, raviolis, pastas, sauces, canneloni, potato pie, polenta, soup and tiramisu. Stefania, who will charm you instantly with her delightful Italian accent and gracious manner, helms the kitchen, cooking the food she learned to make growing up in her native Perugia. Lawrence, who does not have an Italian accent but is very charming nonetheless, is the general manager.

Taste Unique allows you to procure beautiful Italian take-out that goes straight from your car/bike/knapsack into the oven. Items to be baked are packaged in disposable oven-safe cookware, with directions on the lid. Save the lid–IF you have leftovers, you can snap it back on and pop the container in the fridge for later. You can buy fresh pasta by the pound, and then purchase pancetta and hot pepper-laced Amatriciana sauce or creamy, sausage-laden Norcina sauce or summery Pesto Trapanese to swirl it with. You can buy a tray of dreamy tiramisu or a nutty Torta Mantovana cake, then plate it on fine china or eat it straight from the container.

The restaurant also serves lunch in its tiny 10-seat dining room, and you can find the daily specials on their Facebook page. Try not to drool on your keyboard reading them. Stefania and Lawrence will accommodate private dinner parties most nights with advance arrangements, and if you want to learn how to make your own Spaghetti alla Carbonara or Rigatoni Cacio & Pepe, take one of their weekly classes–attendance is capped at five, making for an intimate hands-on experience. So if thus far your cooking skills haven’t left your supper club impressed, you can take them on a fool-proof foodie field trip that will.

Details

Cuisine: Italian

Executive Chef: Stefania Toscano

Owner: Stefania Toscano, Lawrence McCormick

Atmosphere: Umbrian trattoria meets Portland deli

Outdoor seating: Yes, a sidewalk table along SE Division

Best Seat: A stool in the window bar overlooking busy SE Division

Noise Level: Quiet-Normal

Dress Code: Casual

Bring the Kids: Yes

Bathrooms: Back of the restaurant, left side

Parking: Street parking is free and can be difficult to find in the immediate vicinity, you may have to park a few blocks away

Cocktails: No

Wine: Yes

Ideal Meal: Warm flatbread with olive oil, Caprese salad, Umbrian lasagna, tiramisu

Vegetarian Friendly: Yes

Vegan Friendly: Yes

Good for the following occasions: Italiano Night, No Way Am I Cooking Night, Dinner With Friends, Lunchtime Mini-Holiday

Catering: Taste Unique caters gatherings of all types and sizes, call 503.206.7059 for more info.

Reservations: Lunch is first come, first served but reservations should be made in advance for special dinners, see the calendar on the website

Take-Out: Yes!

Delivery: No

Catering: Taste Unique caters gatherings of all types and sizes, call 503.206.7059 for more info.

Deals: Every other Friday night from 4-7pm, Taste Unique hosts Aperitivo Hour--a fun, open-house style event that costs a mere $18 for 20 types of traditional Italian appetizers and a glass of wine