For our first dining adventure of the year, my friend Ms. A and I went to Mucca Osteria for dinner. It’s a fairly new Italian restaurant in downtown Portland. Simone Savaiano opened the place last summer with the assistance of his friend Pietro Biondi; both men are professional Italian sommeliers.
The decor and lighting is pleasant, and the mirrors and huge chalkboard with gilt rococco frames add an elegant touch. I like that they’ve exposed the brickwork on the walls; I think it adds to the warm vibe of the space.
The cocktail menu is small but interesting. I had a ginosa – gin, basil, and orange. There’s one made with Campari that I might have to try next time. It was a subdued, refreshing drink. The bread is delicious – it’s a rustic, hearty, dense bread. Some reviewers don’t like the texture but it’s not supposed to be light and airy; it’s peasant bread.
Our server brought us an amuse-bouche of sour cabbage soup. It was a delightful creamy puree with the taste of potatoes with a slight bitter aftertaste of brussel sprouts or cabbage – I couldn’t tell which.
For an appetizer, we shared the lamb carpaccio (carpaccio di agnello). The kitchen plated it separately for us, which was a really nice touch. It was artfully arranged on the plates in small circles, and was topped with pecorino, celery, and the smallest splash of truffle oil. The lamb was very thinly sliced, and when I took the first bite, I was amazed at how sublime the flavor and texture was. I’ve never had carpaccio but I’m now a convert. And I don’t usually like lamb but this was incredibly delicate and tasty.
We both ordered glass of sangiovese with dinner but I was too focused on the food to pay much attention to the wine; it was very good but once I had a bite of carpaccio, I forgot about it.
For our main courses, I chose one of the specials of the day, risotto with radiccio and goat cheese. Ms. A had the fresh shell pasta with gorgonzola and walnuts. My bowl of slighly purple risotto was the perfect comfort food for a chilly night. The goat cheese was mild but the radiccio added some bitterness which worked well together. Ms. A’s pasta was handmade with the perfect texture. We both enjoyed our entrees.
The dessert menu was lovely though we were pretty sated by the end of the meal. I decided to try the cantucci and vin santo as the perfect end to a graet meal. An Italian women whose house I stayed in a few years ago made cantuccini one day and we dipped in vin santo after dinner. Cookies dipped in sweet wine – heavenly! Mucca’s were tender but had more chocolate chips that I thought they needed. Heresy for this chocolate glutton, I know.
Our charming server was helpful and knowledgeable and had a great Italian accent. The food was great, as was the wine. We’d both been here at different times for lunch and really enjoyed it. I had the wild boar ragu pappardelle (pappardelle al ragù di cinghiale) at lunch time and will defintely have it again.
Our one complaint was the music; we were sitting right under a speaker, and the music was too loud; we could barely converse. Our server did turn it down a bit but it was still too loud – the concrete and brick interior don’t muffle the noise at all. I think sitting away from the speaker would help.
If you haven’t been to Mucca Osteria, please go check it out. We’d like to see them succeed!
1022 SW Morrison