Portland >Food & Dining > Aquariva Restaurant
0470 SW Hamilton Ct, Portland, OR | Directions 9723945.489801 -122.672153
Neighborhoods: Southwest Neighborhoods Incorporated, Corbet - Terwilliger - Lair Hill
With a Bloody Mary bar like they have, who needs to order a meal! Shrimp skewers, olives, celery, spicy and tame tomato juice, pickled veggies, spices by the spoonfuls. But you would be a miss if you did skip the entree. Everything we ordered was superb; pancakes, skillet scramble, eggs bennedict, french toast - every bite was delightful. After your completely stuffed, pay your bill and simply step out onto the waterfront and enjoy a picturesque walk to settle all your senses.
Our new favorite spot! – We were looking for a restaurant to celebrate our anniversay and since it was New Years Day, the selection seemed slim. On a whim, we called Aquariva, and we were pleasantly surprised to find it open for dinner. We read a review of New Year's Eve that was not positive, but since one of us had eaten lunch here and was impressed, we decided to give it a go. We were very pleased with not only the super service, but also the great meal and drinks. We had salmon, chicken, spinach salad, side of green beans and a great desert, Espresso Panna Cotta. The chicken came with parmesan mashed potatoes, both cooked perfectly. The green beans were not overcooked and the tasty salmon came with roasted onions that were incredible.
Avoid – Having heard wonderful things about Aquariva, our party of 6 decided to go on New Years Eve. Upon making reservations, my husband inquired about the menu for New Years and was told that we could have the choice between the Prixfix menu or the Casual Sunday menu. We all looked online and chose what we would be having before going out New Years. Upon arrival, we could not find parking and the "complimentary valet" was not well communicated with signs. After driving around, we had a member of our party go inside to ask where we should park as to not get towed. When we were seated, the table was set in up so we were all on the same side of the table...I assume it had to do with the small amount of space between our table and the table across from us. Definitely not set up for any type of communications to occur during dinner. At this point I thought to myself that the food better be good. I was dissapointed in this as well. After learning that our choices were now the PrixFix or the Bar menu, we reviewed the menus once again. As one member of our party was a vegetarian, her choices were limited to salad, veggie pizza, or cheeseballs. When her pizza came, they had inadvertantly put sausage on it and they had to remake it while we waited as our food became cold. I had the prixfix meal (the only way I could get any type of actual dinner as opposed to appetizers) The "apple" salad had 2 slivers of apple and so much pepper that I had to drink 2 glasses of water following it. The beef ribs were very good and tender and the gelato for dessert was very good. The service started off strong but as soon as our dinner was served, we did not see our waiter again. Our whole party had run out of water at the beginning of dinner and did not get any more until our checks were paid. I also was suprised at the auto-gratuity. Not that it was there but that is was not communicated. We were ready to add the tip when one of our party noticed that it had already been added.
Worst restaurant meal in memory – I fly to Portland often for work and usually stay down town but occasionally stay at the Avalon. After work I didn't feel like taking a cab to a restaurant so I walked to Aquariva next door. Big mistake.
I ordered the flatiron steak with tomato-horseradish vinaigrette & arugula as well as a glass of cabernet and a side of mashed potatoes (didn't come with the steak). When it arrived I couldn't believe it; the steak was about the size of a silver dollar pankcake but sort of square. On two sides were bone and the other two sides were 1/4 inch of fat. When I cut it away I was left with 3 bites, each about the size of a thumbnail. No joke, that was it. Underneath it was a dozen or so large lima beans and maybe 4 leafs of wilted arugula. I called the waitress over, showed her what was there and asked if this was normal. She said yes then walked away. The mashed potatoes were just plain potatoes with melted butter.
I honestly can't remember a worse meal in a restaurant and I won't be going back. I try to give a restaurant where I've had a bad meal another chance and this was the second time I've eaten there (I don't remember what I had last time but I do remember it wasn't very good). After I paid the check I went back to my hotel room and called a delivery service that picks up food from restaurants and had it delivered.
The restaurant is associated with the Avalon, so if you're staying there and ask for a recommendation the first thing they're going to do is send you over there. DON'T DO IT! Take the complimentary shuttle car downtown and find a decent place.
Very disappointing! – We were excited to check out Aquariva as the reviews were quite good and we were staying at the Avalon Hotel and Spa. We arrived on a Saturday night at about 8:30pm to find the entire place completely empty. We sat at the bar and were literally 2 of 4 patrons. There was not one single guest in the dining room. The bartender was friendly and helpful with the wine list which I found to be quite small for a 'wine bar'. Cold and stark is how I'd describe the decor - black and gray. I did notice some red drapes back in the dining room. I'm sure the view is beautiful during the day since it's on the river. We began with a Caesar salad which was average and a fresh mozarella salad. This was 3 slices of not so fresh tomatoes topped with a small, rubbery piece of old mozarella, fresh basil and what they claimed was 30 year old balsamic. It was no different than the $3.00 brand which I purchase at Trader Joe's. My husband ordered a pasta dish which was the smallest portion I've EVER seen in a restaurant - it was about 1/2 cup of noodles, topped with 1/2 cup of sauce and 3 meatballs which were so tiny - about the size of a marble. We could only laugh! The whole thing was smaller than the size of my fist! I chose seafood risoto which I sent back because the pasta was raw (crunchy) and the fish was 'fishy'. The bartender was very nice about it and immediately offered me the opportunity to select something else. I chose a pizza which was tiny but pretty good. I do understand how it's difficult to offer fresh, properly cooked food in an estabishment which does very little business - it was a shame. The small portions would lead me to suggest that they simply offer the entire menu as appetizers. This way, people would expect 'taste' sized portions.
First impressions last – We went for happy hour and were dissapointed. 3 out of the 8 beers on tap they were out of, the food was mediocre at best, tough chewy fries, bad crowd of business men and bar flys. Chef walking around not even smiling with a stern tough look to him. The dining room on a Tuesday night had 3 tables in it. Bad location? Concept? Too bad for them
We've been to this place a few times ever since its latest incarnation as AquaRiva, and every time have asked ourselves, "Why is this not the hottest restaurant in Portland?" The answer must be its off-the-beaten-track location, because everything else about it is fabulous.
Tonight we sat outside on the banks of the Willamette River, with a view of the east side through the trees of Ross Island. The service was perfect; friendly and informative without being overbearing. The dishes were good to great, every one.
Starting with the oregon pear and dandelion green salad; pungent with highlights of ricotta and hazelnuts. Rappini with anchovy (not whole, but in the sauce) garlic and hot pepper; yum! Followed by a perfect risotto "risi e bisi", which apparently means with perfectly cooked sweet peas, parma ham, and parmesan. Am I in Parma, Italy? The pan fried oysters were a bit too fried for my taste, but forgiven by the terrific artichoke-lemon aioli; give me a spoon! Finally (we haven't exploded yet) the rare seared duck breast with asparugus, pork osso buco accompanied by polenta sprinkled with fennel pollen, and the incredible lamb "t-bone" (aka "chop") with melting fava beans in lemon and mint are to die for.
Chef Drew has been doing a consistently great job ever since iAqua Riva's opening nearly two years ago. Expensive? Compared to our other favorite place, Park Kitchen and its ilk, no. Prices are reasonable for the quality and portions. The setting is spectacular; the service very good.
Portland, where are you?
Dungeness crab pasta was AWESOME! – I'm a huge pasta fanatic, and am pretty picky. I had the dungeness crab pasta the other day and it was scrumptious! I loved it so much I've been craving it ever since. I personally think the decor is chic and the view is great as well.
Check your bill for suprises at the end – We loved the ambience, the view and the idea of a nice meal on the river front. The cocktails were disappointing, but the appetizers & entrees were great. Service was incredibly slow, but the beautiful views and good company we were in made it a tolerable pace. Was very disappointed at the end when a 20% gratuity was automatically billed to our table of 5. I actually liked our waitress and would have been inclined to tip her well, but for the restaurant to assume a 20% gratuity for only 5 people went too far in my book.. I felt taken advantage of and robbed of my ability to adequately thank our server on my own. I also doubt they would have alerted us had we inadvertantly double tipped.
A really big miss tonight – Big Miss
Though billed as an Italian restaurant , there is no warmth or ambiance anywhere. The restaurant decor is black and white and very cold. I don?t know who?s idea it was to choose the dinner hour to move excess table out the back door making everyone within 20 feet of the door turn to ice. We started with the seared ahi tuna and the baby kumoto oysters, they were both great. The beet salad was also very good, but when it came to the entrees, oh my gosh. The osso bucco was way over done and flavorless and the Dungeness crab and pasta was a real miss. The crab flavor was non-existent and over powered by the lemon rind. The pasta was over cooked and stuck together in a lump. Not good. We did not stay for desert or coffee because we were both frozen solid and just wanted to get out of there. To bad, our server Julie was very sweet and embarrassed by the tables being shuffled about. We defiantly choose the wrong night, I guess the end of the Trail Blazer Season party to be held that night was far more important than we were. We will probably never go back. You only get one chance to make an impression and this night really failed.
Aquariva is not a hot spot – As I gazed into the restaurant I noticed the unfamiliar placement of the hostess stand. It was awkward and unapproachable. The hostess had a fine demeanor and sat us quickly with a fine ethic and detail towards her work but sat us in a space that seemed nearly inhabitable. The service was curt at best and seemed nearly rushed. I found myself pushed between highly priced bottled water and tap water that was equal in price but not quality. The quality of the bottled water was absolutely sub par and would refuse it if I found myself to ever to experience such a situation again.
The food matched the service; a circus but not a pageant. The flavors were dull and not conducive of the expectancy of a long held Italian tradition that assumes flavor and wine to be paired in an exuberant delightfulment. The scallops were overdone and dull, the chicken was verbose. I have been to many a delightful dining venue and often 7/11 has been a better value. The service was lacking as well as the wine knowledge and its availability. I would recommend otherwise. The people at the bar and the hostess were quite nice and enjoyable.
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