Tuesday, July 1, 2014


One of the restaurants I really, really wanted to try while we were in Portland was Grassa. Handcrafted pasta. Duh. Of course I wanted to go. SP was willing to go, especially since Lardo is right next door (1205 SW Washington Street) and he was hoping to try a kimchi-pickled veggie-sriracha-pork belly kind of sandwich. We went to Grassa first.
It's a little... different from anything I can think of here in Pittsburgh. You look at the daily offerings on a chalkboard in the entrance way, then order at the cashier/hostess station, receive a number, take a seat, and your food is brought to you.
I had read a couple of reviews complaining about loud music, but it wasn't too loud the night we were there. There are communal tables, mostly bar height, but there are a few booths and one low, regular table height counter area. The hostess lady was kind enough to ask some people occupying the low counter area if they could change seats so that I could sit there since the high tables don't work for a wheelchair. She said they were regulars, so not to worry, they were very nice people, and happily, they did move for us, which was very nice and much appreciated. I also mentioned my garlic sensitivity and they were amazing about checking on it.
We started with Arugula Salad with shaved fennel, goat cheese, radish, and a sherry dijon vinaigrette. When it was served, she was careful to mention that there might be garlic in the vinaigrette but that if I wanted, they could remake it without vinaigrette. Usually dressings are OK, especially if I don't swirl my bites through pools of dressing. It was delicious - crisp greens and goat cheese.
For my entree I chose Creste Di Gallo - pancetta whipped ricotta, English peas, herbs, grana. She served my pancetta on the side since when they cure their pancetta, they layer it between garlic.
I gave the pancetta a few good sniffs, and so did SP, and we both tasted a bite. Delicious! And since we didn't detect any garlic, I went ahead and dumped it all on my pasta. I really enjoyed this dish. Creamy ricotta, salty pancetta, homemade pasta, fresh herbs, and fresh peas. Simple, but so good. I loved the shape of the pasta - I'd never seen this shape before, the crimped edge:
SP started with an order of Fritto Misto - calamari, fennel, lemon, chilis and dipping sauce. Again, we were told the sauce had garlic in it, but this was SP's, so no need to worry. 
He really liked the sauce and fried goodies, especially enjoying the fried lemons. This was the second time in Portland that he had been served fried lemon and he now loves it.

He also ordered Crispy Pig Ear:
I was struggling to finish my pasta, it was a pretty large portion for me, so this was all his, too. Sometimes I am surprised by what he orders (he surprised me with his fried food orders at Grassa because he usually tries to order healthier stuff than fried foods), but he loves crispy pig ear and said this was very good.
SP helped me finish my pasta. I guess that's why, after salad, fritto misto, crispy pig ear, and a few bites of pasta, he was too full for Lardo. We stopped in front, on the sidewalk, and peered in, thinking about going in, but since it is not a Yum Yum friendly place and since we both were stuffed, we passed.

As for Grassa, we both enjoyed our meals a lot and definitely would go back. It was nice, after a long day of driving and being a tourist, to have a delicious meal in so casual and relaxing a setting, and to have people who really paid attention to my garlic allergy and who were so willing to be so accommodating - they were happy and concerned, not annoyed and surly. That's not always the case. After getting sick from the shallot a couple days earlier and not wanting any more tummy trouble, I was very happy.

Also - while they do serve alcohol, we ordered iced teas and it was definitely delicious, fresh brewed iced tea.

And, for salad, pasta, 2 iced teas, fritto misto, crispy pig ear, and tip, our meal was $40. Pretty darn reasonable.

Grassa on Urbanspoon

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