Portland >Food & Dining > Nostrana
1401 Se Morrison St, Portland, OR | Directions 9721445.517694 -122.651123
Neighborhoods: Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program, Buckman
Portland's finest pasta is probably served at this large, airy, and causal restaurant, which is powered by a hot oven and some serious sourcing. I love the big steak, and there are some great other dishes, but really, you need to have the pastas here, particularly the handmade ones.
Girls’ night, date night, weeknight, bad day at work night…somehow this stylish, lofty-ceilinged Italian restaurant meets any going-out criteria, and don’t even get me started on the late night happy hour--$6 wood-fired thin crust pizzas and $5 Campari & sodas? Yes, please!
From the wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas to the pitch-perfect cocktails, the menu is a veritable Greatest Hits playlist of my favorite Italian foods. Insalata Nostrana is my pick for the best salad in town. Tip: head to Nostrana for late-night happy hour and get $5 pizzas and $5 glasses of wine every night after nine pm.
Authentic, memorable, rustic Italian food. Dining room or at the bar, the service will not disappoint. Must try any of their pizza's, served thin, uncut and with scissors, just as a true Italian would expect. The specials always offer up something enticing enough to make you oscillate between your favorite menu item and the temptation of something new and different.
Another Eat Pay Leave - the stars are just for taste – The food was tasty, the portions small, the bread was nice and filled the void, pretty spendy $18 for a bowl of soup and a small squid salad. The parking was free and easy in the lot. The waitress.... was having a bad day,.The food came out promptly, and dishes were promptly removed. But we didn't feel any warmth or welcoming from her.We were told when we got there that we had to be done and gone in 90 minutes as the table was reserved at 7:30. I checked my watch at 6:36 as we felt like we were being rushed to finish up and still had almost an hour. We figured then that she must make enough money by the hour and has no need for tips.... Then when the bill came, of course, the tip was an 18 percent entitlement to rush through the motions ... the poor girl only made $65 for the hour she spent putting plates down at our table...
Prequel to Eat. Pay. Leave – I had a horrible experience last night and got on here to write a review when I saw Eat. Pay. Leave. Man, you said it perfectly!
A friend and I sat down for a drink, dinner, and wine. I kid you not, in 5-10 minutes we had our drinks, salads and first courses. The server (the manager), was in my face asking several times what wine we were going to order for our entree! I asked for more time to enjoy what we had just been served for I had yet to take my 3rd sip of my drink. She smiled, said yes, and within 3 minutes, returned, grabbing the wine menu and asking if we had chosen the wine yet.
Nostrana's and their staff wiped out the enjoyment of an evening where we were prepared to spend good money and time. Each beverage or course arrived a minute or two after the previous one when we had only had a chance to take a sip or bite or two. I gave her "my look," she apologized and asked if I was upset and if she could do anything to set things right. I responded, "If I wanted fast food, I would've gone to McDonald's." A few moments later, I observed her in the kitchen with other staff laughing and she looked directly at me. I can't remember if I've ever done this before, but I left a zero tip. I will never go back. Eat. Pay. Leave. You got it exactly right!
Nostrana's motto: "Eat, Pay, Leave" If they could, they'd slam a funnel in your mouth, shove food down your throat, and send you out in five.
Nostrana is about turning over tables as fast as possible. How do they do it? With loud music and the "Interruption Disguised as Service" method. "More bread? More, wine? More water? More food? More dessert? More coffee? More this? More that? If you ask the server to leave you alone, they do. But there's others. They spawn. Resistance is futile. Eat, Pay, Leave! (Run actually.)
Latest on Nostrana – This was our second visit, so for those that have never been here, here is my take on what it's like at this point in time.
The atmosphere I would call casually elegant. It's quite beautiful inside and they have a very nice outdoor patio, yet you don't need to be dressed up to go. Not the quietest restaurant around but we could hear each other with no problem.
The cocktails were a disappointment. Almost no booze in them and the prices were way too high. Have a drink at home or stop on the way and have a beer or glass of wine when you get here.
The food menu tries a bit too hard, especially on the small plates. I miss those days when Italian restaurants had an antipasti platter with meats, cheeses, olives, peppers, etc. These days you have to order $50 worth of separate "artisanal" plates to get the same thing. This place is no exception. As for soups/salads we have only had the Caesar salad. The dressing and croutons are outstanding. The radicchio is too bitter for many so I would like to see romain as an option (why not?)
What is glaring is the lack of pasta and risotto dishes. You have to jump from the oddball appetizers or salads/soups up to the entrees. The first visit they had one pasta with squid ink. Who really orders that? This time they had two pastas and neither sounded that appealing. I would like to see them incorporate some of their wood grilled meat and seafood into their house made pastas. And please get some cream and/or tomato sauce, not everyone likes their pastas with broth.
The entree section is well done however. Pretty much all the bases are covered here with wood grilled lamb, chicken, seafood, and beef. They have also finally added an affordable steak (NY which of course they were out of early) instead of just the $60 Porterhouse. The dishes are very good and really need no improvement. Desserts are also outstanding. Try the budinos, you will not be disappointed.
The best deal is the evening happy hour. You can get some their pizzas at a great price. Speaking of pizza, great crust, sauce is too mild, and the toppings are sparse (seems like the more the price goes up at pizza joints, the less toppings you get). They are pretty good however and on happy hour they are well worth it.
Our service on both visits was excellent. Very attentive and the servers were nice. The front desk however is totally stressed out and very unfriendly. Maybe that's why we only recognized one server from one visit to the next.
If I had one suggestion for the owner of Nostrana it would be RELAX! Relax the food a bit and be a little more casual. And please relax the front desk. The tension here makes us all uptight and this place is too nice to see it go by the wayside. Make us feel welcome to be your guest, visit the diners, and perhaps even smile. This place should be fun.
Pretentious nonsense at its worst – Eat first before you go.
Don't plan to have an intimate evening – We had been hearing about the food at Nostrana ever since they opened to many good reviews. We chose the prix fixe menu for Valentine's evening. The high ceilinged setting was architecturally handsome and attractive, perhaps a little too dark. The ambiance was severely marred by cheesy pop rock music played loud enough to distort the sound coming through the speakers. It was disappointing not to be able to hear each other and have a conversation. In general, the food was good(many small courses). Portions were delicate and just right. Overall,
salt was used with a heavy hand.
Amazing Cocktails, Fabulous Service, and Delightful Food – First of all the food is amazing. I have so much respect for a restaurant that is buying direct from the farms. The energy and effort that goes into making fresh pastas, breads, pizzas, etc fresh everyday is much appreciated and in this case, done to perfection. Normally I sit at a table and have always received amazing service (especially from a blond woman with glasses) and then I discovered the talent behind the bar. Taylor, makes some of the best sazeracs I have ever tasted. While I am partial to the Sazerac rye with a Le Torment rinse, he suggested a cognac instead that was slightly sweeter but a fantastic change from the rye. This delightful concoction was followed by the Nostrana salad- a perfect mix of radicchio, creamy Cesar like dressing and Parmesan. The next dish was one of the best pastas maybe ever. A fresh house made ravioli stuffed with the perfect amount of beets, tossed in a simple butter sauce. I was so impressed I went on to have a affogato- made from house made gelato and rich espresso. The atmosphere is well preserved with an open air kitchen, low lighting, and high ceilings. Truly a culinary triumph.
Food was average, service was terrible – The pizza is good, and kids can always have pizza, regardless of how "adult" the rest of the menu might be. The salads are OK, but not as good as one should be able to expect of a restaurant of this caliber. Some of the other dishes that people in our party had were good. Overall, I would rate the food a little above average, but not outstanding. As far as the space is concerned, we found it to be very comfortable, and the noise was not a problem at all.
The service, however, was awful. The waiter was pleasant enough, but the entire experience took two and a half hours. I am not making this up. We had young kids in the party, which made it even more difficult to contend with. When we arrived, the restaurant was less than half full, yet the waiter would disappear for 20 minutes or more. The wait for the food to arrive after ordering and the wait between courses was interminable. We had promised dessert to the children, and had to wait another 20 minutes for the dessert order to be taken, and another period of time for the desserts to arrive. I went to Nostrana a few years ago when it first opened and thought these glitches would be worked out in time, and the restaurant of the year award led me to believe that was the case. Didn't happen. It really is inexcusable for service to be this bad.
Tricked into Mothers Day – Was promised LIVE music by two guitarists. Not only did they not show, but I could'nt get an answer until our dinners came. We were sat at 6pm, the band was to start at 7pm. Dinner came at 6:30pm. Then we found out that the musicians were not coming because of Mothers Day, and that is why we went. Food was OK service was horrible. I will never go back.
Best pizza in town – Devon Chase can make a mean pizza. She is so innovative with her ingredients but yet so faithful to the classics. I wish it was next door to my house, actually no, if it was next door I would be a blimp by now. Big ups to Nostrana and their lovely food. Oh, the waitstaff is always pleasant. A big plus in my book.
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