Archestratus, the first food critic, praised Italian cuisine's "top-quality and seasonal" ingredients and "fair-to-middling" ability to tranquilize out-of-control mayors. Today's Groupon similarly stuns, and rightfully so: for $12, you get $25 worth of Italian dishes and drinks at Iorio Restaurant. Today’s Groupon requires that guests order at least one entree during their visit; because of limited space in the restaurant, confirmed reservations are required.
Iorio Restaurant has been named to a number of Best of Citysearch lists, including Best Portland Restaurant in 2010 and Best Fine Dining in 2009. Iorio is the last name of chef Christopher Thompson's great-grandmother, an immigrant of Southern Italy and guru of gastronomy whose recipes are the inspiration behind many dishes on the menu. Local, sustainable ingredients populate batches of pasta, ravioli, and pizza dough, and the gnocchi, the hard-to-pronounce, easy-to-eat wonder pasta, is handmade. After slicing and dicing through the overwhelming maze of succulent smells, reward yourself with the beet salad topped with dolce gorgonzola and greens ($8) or the wild-mushroom-and-nitrate-free-pepperoni pizza ($13). The pasta with Manila clams and kale in a spicy garlic-cream sauce ($16) is a taste-receptor treat, and the Carlton Farms slow-roasted pork shoulder braised in madeira and shredded atop a pillow of polenta ($18) is as tender as a hug from Bruce Willis.
Iorio Restaurant is an intimate, demurely lit restaurant that treads the shallow waters between a romantic getaway and a family-friendly gathering place. There is an accommodating kids' menu as well as a drink menu to feed grown-up kids. Patrons also are encouraged to bring their own wine from their personal collections ($16 corkage fee), such as the special grape-juice box that has been fermenting in the back of the cupboard since '98.
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.
“You may want to insulate the ceiling to absorb the sound...:) The staff was lovely, attentive, informative and knowledgeable :) Thank you...”
“They are very helpful to accommodate GF diets. :)”
“Book your reservation further in advance than the afternoon of the day you want to go.... :-) ”
912 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97214