After an early morning wake up in order to make it to Oaks Park, then the Portland Children's Museum, we were exhausted. Well, at least we were, seems like my son could've kept going. We had to literally drag him away from the museum. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by Piazza Italia for some dinner. Being that we were early, we stopped by the water park across from Cool Moon for a bit. It was a scorcher of a day and it water was a nice way to cool down. Too bad neither of the kiddies had their swimwear on them. Of course, even with our constant instruction and reminders, they both decided to sit down in the water and get completely soaked. A parents' job is never done... Luckily we had a change of clothes in the car, albeit a pair of sweats for our daughter (which was not exactly the best choice for this weather). Located in the Pearl District in Downtown Portland, it is much like Soho in NYC and Yaletown in Vancouver. Trendy and expensive too.
Not knowing if the place was family-friendly, we took a chance. Throughout our dinner, the place was half-filled with kids. The staff were more than welcoming and even provided water in takeout coffee cups complete with straws. It's funny how one party spotted a high chair next to their table and requested to move as a result. I'm not sure what they were trying to accomplish since almost every other table had children. Furthermore, none misbehaved nor made a squeak throughout dinner. In absolutely no time, we were presented with complimentary bread (and they refill it lightning quick too). In addition, we got an Antipasto Plate as an appie. There was a selection of meats, goat cheese, marinated mushrooms, cucumbers and tomatoes. Nothing out of the ordinary, as it was your standard antipasto plate. It was good though.
For my main, I went for the Linguine alla Vongole (I seem to order this alot). The pasta was very al dente and tossed in garlicky olive oil & white wine. There was no absence of seasoning and clam flavour. I liked how there was no huge pool of oil at the bottom of the plate. A clear indication that there was just enough olive oil to coat the pasta. The fresh clams were also quite tender. Only complaint would be that it was a tad salty. Viv ended up with the Rigatoni Bolognese. Once again, the pasta was very al dente (which we prefer). Although there was a lot of meat sauce on the plate, it did not overwhelm the pasta with excess liquid. The rich sauce was not "wet"; rather it was full of meat, which was moist and flavourful. Definite hits of wine, tomato and Parmesan.
For kiddies, there was Spaghetti with Plain Tomato Sauce. They split it into 2 plates for us and it was only $8.00. As expected, the pasta was also al dente; but not as much as ours. Not sure if this was intentional; but it was very welcome since the kiddies prefer it a bit softer. The sauce was indeed simple; yet it was still good. Made with fresh tomatoes, there was a tang tempered with a touch of sweetness. Just enough sauce to coat the pasta once again. The kids enjoyed it, especially with extra Parm. Actually, we all enjoyed our meal here. Personally, this is the type of pasta I like (as opposed to large portions of mediocre pasta drenched in sauce). Prices are reasonable considering the location with well-executed food and attentive service. Being kid-friendly was a big bonus.
- Well-executed pasta and sauces
- Attentive service
- Portions aren't huge (if you were expecting that)
- Tight dining room