From time to time I like to blog about our local neighborhoods here in Portland, Oregon as I know many buyers moving to our area want to learn more about our city and move to the areas that offer walkability and great restaurants! The Division/Clinton blocks in SE Portland is one of those areas. Featuring the ever popular Pok Pok, Salt & Straw, and The Woodsman Tavern (to name a few), this neighborhood is ideal for those who are serious about their food!
To add to the list of great restaurants on SE Division, I have to share about my dining experience at Ava Gene’s. For those of you haven’t eaten at this fine italian restaurant, now is the time to book your reservation (they actually do take reservations!). Some friends and I popped in yesterday around 5:45 and were seated right away, but by 6:30 the place was understandably packed.
From the moment you walk in you’re greeted by a warm old-world-meets-Portland-industrial atmosphere and a friendly host. They recommend that you carve out 2-2 1/2 hours for the ultimate dining experience, making this the perfect special occasion/date night destination.
The vibe is Italian, but as their website advertises, the cuisine is Roman inspired. Their diverse menu relies on fresh seasonal and local ingredients, and the burst of unique flavors that come with each dish are truly mouth watering. For those who are gluten free/vegetarian/vegan who typically steer clear of the pasta heavy restaurants, they’ve got you covered! The chefs here are known for their mastery of the greens. The fennel, pears, leeks, citrus and brown butter salad was a great starter!
For appetizers, I have to say the garlic bread was the best I’d ever had, and the burrata, dates, squash, walnuts dish ended up being a unique favorite.
For the main entree, I opted with the lamb ragu and was not disappointed. (The dishes shown in the picture clockwise from the bottom left are the toasted spring wheat spaghetti, the lamb ragu, the wild mushroom ravioli, and the carrot quinoa wild rice dish for a great gluten free/vegetarian option).
Our waiter was very knowledgeable about each dish, and they have a wine director on hand to recommend the best pairing. For those who opt for non-alcoholic beverages, they have great “mocktail” options. I recommend the Cranberry Ritz!
We didn’t make it to dessert as we were stuffed by the time we finished our entrees, but the offerings looked impressive and I’m already planning my next visit.
Obviously Portland is known for it’s great dining options and you could make a full time job out of sampling the best of what our city has to offer, but take it from me, Ava Gene’s is truly a gem.