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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.
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