It is as he gently stirs his roasted tomato sauce that Chef Chris Thompson is struck by a sudden memory?the image of his great-grandmother Julia Iorio stirring her own sauce with a wooden spoon, the smell of roasting chicken, the chatter of his family. He smiles before turning his attention back to his sauce, spooning it generously over handmade fresine pasta and fresh meatballs. It is not uncommon for Chris to think of his great-grandmother while cooking?after all, his adventurous culinary spirit and many of his recipes came from her. Chris puts a contemporary spin on her time-honored Italian dishes, folding organic produce, local meats, and sustainable seafood into pasta, lasagna, and specialties. In doing so, he?s earned accolades from an abundance of critics, including Kat Audick from Vanguard, who described her meal as ?one of the best I?ve had in Portland.?
Chris?s guests await their dishes in the warm dining room, sipping on local wines and gluten-free Harvester Brewing beers. Colorful paintings speckle the deep-red walls, and moonlight filters in through soft curtains. Throughout the year, the restaurant hosts cooking classes, where Chris teaches students how to whip up Italian dishes for their friends and family or the collection of miniature cat figurines that has replaced their friends and family.
At Cozmic, the culinary team kneads organic flour made from local Willamette Valley wheat into crusts that are brushed with buttery extra-virgin olive oil. Then, they pile on toppings and set the pies to bake on 700-degree stones. The list of toppings?many of which are also organic, such as the apples?breaks traditional pizza boundaries by including unique options such as kale, and vegetarian meats, which offer an alternative to the eatery?s local sausage, smoked pork, and pepperoni.
These Jersey-Eugene-style fusion pies are the brainchild of Kirk Giudici, also the founder of Rising Moon Organics. When Kirk decided to embark on a second organic foods endeavor by opening a pizzeria, he found himself drawn to a vintage 1945 building that was an Edsel car dealership back when man didn?t travel only by hovercraft. While renovating the 4,000-square-foot auto display room, the same environmental principles that led Kirk to organics undergirded his decorating approach of using only recycled and repurposed materials. As a result, diners sip their homemade fountain sodas and Oregonian microbrews while perched at a bar made from a shuffleboard and lit with dryer-drum light fixtures from Kirk?s Laundromat.
The restaurant space, massive enough to have once housed a fleet of automobiles, enabled Kirk to create a stage dubbed The Edsel, which has attracted national acts such as Michelle Shocked, The Be Good Tanyas, and eight-time Grammy Award winner Marcia Ball. In addition to musical acts, the pizzeria?s calendar is full of events such as Science Pub, when tipplers learn about topics such as why it?s impossible to teleport your clothes along with your body.
In an effort to find a healthy alternative to fast food without sacrificing speediness, the creators of The Pita Pit began assembling their signature sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks. At each location, thin, Lebanese-style pitas encircle lean, grilled meats and fresh veggies. Sandwich selections span the spectrum from gyro meat and falafel to turkey and prime rib. The staff empowers customers to make healthy choices by displaying nutrition information for each bread, meat, and post-meal toothpick and corralling a selection of healthy sandwiches, which dining companions can wash down with fruit smoothies.
From cracking two-row malted barley in a roller mill to carbonating at 31 degrees Fahrenheit, brewer Adam Roberts’s five-step process yields each of 4th Street Brewing Co.’s handcrafted beers. A window in the brewpub’s restaurant lets patrons take a peek at the working microbrewing equipment, which churn out the ales, porters, and IPAs that make up the five mainstay brews. Adam also crafts seasonal beer selections such as the Get Jiggy Wit It, a belgian white ale, and the czech pilsner.
In the kitchen, Chef Abe uses locally raised, organic ingredients to craft pub food that complements Adam’s beers. Those dishes include beer-battered onion rings by the pound or half-pound, charbroiled or stone-oven-baked pizzas with toppings such as IPA barbecue sauce and artichoke hearts, and a pork-fillet sandwich topped with french fries. Meals unfold in a spacious dining room where sports flicker across nine high-definition televisions and magician Brian Proctor dazzles diners every Friday night by performing card tricks and magically, with only the use of minutes, turning once hot dishes into lukewarm ones. 4th Street also accommodates private feasts in two party rooms equipped with amenities such as a 78-inch projection screen and a private bar.
With a storied and possibly haunted history stretching back to the late 1800s, The Venetian Theatre & Bistro maintains its vintage glamour with ornate chandeliers, a sweeping auditorium, and a cozy bistro with open-air seating. When the theater isn’t hosting plays and other special events, classic films splash across its gargantuan screen, transporting viewers back to simpler times when everyone rode on the backs of horses instead of on the shoulders of robots. The onsite eatery sates appetites with gourmet comfort lunches and dinners that include handcrafted pizzas and burgers, and wine is available by the glass.
People need energy to play, so meals at John's Incredible Pizza Company might start at a salad bar with 40 different veggies and toppings, before proceeding to an inventive selection of pizzas including barbecue chicken ranch, spicy peanut butter, and standards like pepperoni and cheese. There is also a build-your-own pasta bar and a dessert buffet with everything from fresh baked cinnamon rolls to soft-serve ice cream cones?all of it is meant to fuel a good time. That takes place on bumper cars and interactive super-bikes. Old school arcade enthusiasts can engage in classic Pac-Man battle while redemption tickets whir out of machines, granting winners access to a prize counter stocked with lava lamps and Nintendo and XBOX 360 consoles.