1401 Southeast Morrison Street
Portland, OR 97214
$150 per person inclusive
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$130 per person inclusive
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HOST VENUE - Nostrana
Nostrana is surely one of the best restaurants to come along in some time. Celebrity Chef Cathy Whims was the chef/owner at the famed Genoa during its heyday. Other owners are Deb Accuardi (co-chef, also owner of Gino’s), her husband, Marc Accuardi, and David West, owner of Produce Row Café. With a team like this, success is almost guaranteed.
The wine list is varied through most Italian regions, with a few other areas thrown in, such as some Oregon pinots. A good selection of medium-priced bottles is available, though they have some interesting cellar selections too.
Bruschetta is also excellent, in large part due to their use of Baker & Spice bread. Two pieces of bread come hot out of the wood oven with some lovely cheese and beautifully roasted cherry tomatoes; little bombs of flavor. The bread has a nice smoky taste, the crust just the right amount of crispness so that it holds its shape, yet easily tears when you bite into it; another winner. A salad of wood oven baked Corona beans impresses. The big fat beans speak for themselves, pairing perfectly with the tuna and pickled vegetables.
A perfect Italian-style pizza should be very thin, and crisp, almost like a cracker. It should have a good scorch, with little bubbles of black on not only the top, but a slight scorch on the edges and all the way underneath. Here they are using Karl Kuppera flour from The Shepherd’s Grain cooperative. Dough is made from a sourdough starter. The pizzas were crispy all the way through, with just the right balance of toppings, terrific flavors
The carrot cake is excellent. A real standout is the Wood-oven baked crisp; this week it is apple and rhubarb. They put it into a thin ceramic dish, top it with sugar and slide it into the 700 degree oven. 20 minutes later it is delivered sizzling to your table, the sugar all caramelized. The server then pours a small pitcher of thick almond cream over the top to cool it off. This is a wondrous dessert, well worth the wait!
Nostrana has an excellent selection of cheeses. Recently the choice included a Rouge River Blue wrapped in brandy-soaked grape leaves, with a drizzle of honey, a perfect end to your meal.
Nostrana is one of the most exciting restaurants to come along in a long time.
Write up by Food Dude in Portland OR
GUEST CELEBRITY CHEF - Holly Smith
RESTAURANT - Café Juanita, Kirkland WA
Holly Smith grew up in Monkton, Maryland in a food loving family. Holly studied political science at both Colby College and Washington College later attending the Baltimore International Culinary College. Holly completed an externship in Ireland with Master Chef Peter Timmins while at BICC.
In 1993 Holly moved to Seattle and accepted a position with Tom Douglas at the Dahlia Lounge. Holly was the sous chef of the Dahlia Lounge for 4 years. In 1999, Chef Tamara Murphy encouraged Holly to become a part of the opening of Brasa. She spent that year as sous chef, leaving to open Cafe Juanita in April of 2000.
Cafe Juanita has been a labor of love, allowing Holly to express her passion for Northern Italian food and wine; a commitment to organics and sustainability and a holistic approach to the dining experience. Holly hopes to showcase local products while serving modern Northern Italian inspired cuisine.
Holly and Cafe Juanita have received awards and recognition both locally and nationally throughout it's first eight years. Locally with 3 1/2 stars from the Times and 4 stars from the Seattle Post Intelligencer, as well as recognition in Esquire, Wine Spectator, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Seattle Magazine, The Robb Report, Travel and Leisure, Sunset and was the 2008 Best Chef Northwest from The James Beard Awards .
Holly lives in North Seattle with her young son Oliver.
GUEST CELEBRITY CHEF - Jason Wilson
RESTAURANT - Crush, Seattle WA
Chef Jason Wilson – Crush , Seattle WA
Chef Jason Wilson remains true to his ideals: preparing the finest local, organic ingredients in a manner befitting the title Modern Northwest Cuisine. A graduate of the esteemed California Culinary Academy, Chef Jason Wilson assisted in kitchens as far afield as France, California and Singapore. He considers the kitchens of Flying Saucer, Aqua and Stars his main influences. In 2006, Jason was declared one of the Top Ten New Chefs in North America by the prestigious Food and Wine Magazine.
After being nominated in 2008, 2009 and 2010 for a James Beard Award; Chef Jason was awarded the 2010 James Beard Award for "Best Chef: Northwest".
HOST CELEBRITY CHEF - Cathy Whims
RESTAURANT - Nostrana
It’s not the awards or the notoriety that fuels the fire for Chef/Restaurateur Cathy Whims. It’s the quest to offer historically-based, authentic dishes that celebrate a sense of place and a local producer’s passion that keep this beloved Portland culinary treasure at the stove. She and her partner, David West, opened Nostrana in 2005 and quickly earned The Oregonian’s coveted designation as Best Restaurant of the Year. Nostrana is an Italian road-house in Southeast Portland serving classical and inventive seasonal dishes reflective of Cathy’s close, personal relationships with Northwest farmers.
Nostrana’s menu focuses on the intensity of flavor created by cooking in the wood oven and wood-fired grill. According to Bon Appetit Magazine, “Many of the dishes offered (at Nostrana) are otherwise hard to find in this country, but are just what an Italian food connoisseur might crave.”
The restaurant has an excellent Italian and Northwest wine list and serves fantastic cocktails featuring a range of vintage aperitifs and bitters, hand-made pastas, robust and simple meat and fish dishes, Neapolitan-style pizza, house-cured meats and a range of exquisite yet rustic desserts.
Prior to establishing Nostrana, Cathy was part of the kitchen and eventually co-owner of Portland’s pioneering prix-fixe Italian restaurant, Genoa. Cathy attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in Latin. In the course of her professional career, Cathy has studied with Marcella and Victor Hazan at their home in Venice, and Madeleine Kamman at the highly respected School for American Chefs. Whims has cooked with Giancinto Albarello at Genoa and in his own kitchen at the Antica Torre Trattoria in Barbaresco, and with Marco Forneris at Osteria La Libera in Alba, both renowned restaurants of the Langhe. A never-ending curiosity and quest for complexity of flavors found only in simple cooking takes Whims often to Italy where she continues to make new friendships and enjoy the roots of Italian cooking.
Cathy Whims was a James Beard Award finalist for “Best Chef Northwest” in 2009, and is a finalist again in 2010.