Portland >Restaurants > a Cena
7742 SE 13th St., Portland, OR | Directions 9720245.468742 -122.652873
Neighborhoods: Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program, Sellwood - Moreland Improvement League
Nice place, great location, decent ambience.
The service was courteous. .. BUT I'm wondering why for 6:30 PM reservations on a Sunday night in a restaurant only half full, the risotto special was already out as was one of only half a dozen dessert options.
Because the risotto special was out, I had to replace my order. I changed to braised short ribs on polenta. This came out at the same time as my partner's lobster raviolini ... which was cold. They had obviously held her order to accomodate my replacement order. But cold is cold. Shame, because it was lovely, quite a bit better than my order. The portion size of the polenta, which was indeed tasty, was absurd: best described as a polenta smear. The arancini was oddly bland, but at least it was hot.
Overall I'd say it was ok. I'd give it another shot, though it's likely not a place I'd take clients or colleagues. Just seemed like an off night for them.
Another overpriced and overrated Portland restaurant – A friend and I went their recently for dinner with high hopes. Unfortunately, we found the menu to be overpriced and oddly unfriendly to vegetarian diners. That last part being odd, for a restaurant in SE Portland, where you might expect to see more vegetarian options on the menu that what a Cena offers.
I, the vegetarian, opted for a simple plate of penne with marinara sauce, which believe it or not had to be a "special order". This was a substitute of a menu item, penne with lobster. Basically, they took the lobster out of the dish, but then still charged me the full price of $17.00. No lobster, but I still was charged full price for what amounted to pasta with tomato sauce. I couldn't help but notice also that my friend's portion of potato gnocchi with rabbit was about 1/3 larger than mine, and we were still charged the same price for each of our entrees.
It was good, but certainly not great food, and the portions sizes were wan, I suppose so that we would know we were eating an "important" meal. I prefer to actually get my money's worth, thank you, and not be cheated because I happen to not eat meat. I'll spend my dining dollar elsewhere in future.
Best meal of my life! – The food was absolutely amazing....AMAZING. Everything melted in my mouth and tickled the tastebuds. The calamari was unbelievable. The wine was reasonably priced and when we finished our bottle the waiter opened a new one and topped off our glasses free of charge. When I ordered a glass of after-dinner port, they brought a plate full of dark chocolates to pair with it(on the house). We were the last to leave. We thought the waiter was coming to kick us out but instead he offered to play us any song over the stereo at our request. What an amazing evening...I LOVE THIS PLACE!
very good italian – very nice and unexpected. the menu offers traditional italian dishes and more creative ones, and everything - finally - make sense, it could come from a restaurant in italy.
Our Favorite "Splurge" Restaurant – My husband & I always look forward to our meals at a Cena (which I found via the Rewards Network dining program). The food is very fresh & authentically Italian and the space is decorated nicely & gets a lot of daylight (large windows). We come hungry so we can try as many courses as possible - prosciutto-wrapped grilled peaches all the way to sea salt caramel gelato - pure heaven. The bill isn't small, but it's oh-so worth it.
sloppy service – waiter spilled food all over husband's shirt. Other staff, including who we think was the owner, saw the mishap and did nothing to help cleanup. my husband and i helped instead. waiters make errors- that's not the problem, it was the recovery, or lack thereof, that was disappointing. no offer to pay for dry cleaning, or anything. just a glib "sorry." We can look over a lot service wise, if the food is good. unfortunately, my fish was overcooked and tough, and my husbands pasta was soggy and tastelss.
A perfect meal! – My husband and I have been to A Cena many times, and we have always enjoyed our experience. But, tonight's dinner surpassed all meals I have eaten any where in Portland in quite a while.
The owner, Chirs, helped us select our dishes, and his direction was superb. I started with the Carciofi, the fried artichokes. They were amazing. I wanted something simple, yet delicious...and, boy, that is what I got! What a treat. Crispy on the outside, moist and delicious on the inside. Lightly salted with sea salt and a spritz of fresh lemon juice.
My husband wanted a salad, so we shared one. We had the Romano, a grilled romaine salad. Also superb. I am surprised at how wonderful that toasty taste is with lettuce! Go figure! Then to have A Cena's own crispy, yet juicy pancetta, atop this treat!
My husband ordered his usual, a Bolognese pasta, and he was thoroughly pleased. It's usually a favorite of mine too, but I have to write about my entre!
I ordered something new for me. It was the Agnolotti, a recommendation from the owner. Oh...my...god!!!! It was an amazing taste of perfection. Sweet corn and mascarpone filling in a delicious pasta, topped with a butter poached lobster claw with a few mache leaves dropped on top was absolutely beautiful to look at and even better to savor, one bite at a time. The flavors were clean and fresh, while surprisingly rich and elegant. It was like eating a dream.
For dessert, we asked for a suggestion, since we had already won the trifecta. We had the caramel and sea salt gelato...another winner. Wow! It was a dinner that will be hard to match.
We really couldn't have asked for a nicer evening of taste sensations, pleasant people and a nice environment. We are already talking about when we will return and who we will bring to experience an exceptional meal...one of the best we have had in Portland.
Exceptional Italian cooking – We've eaten at a cena several times. It has always been quite good, but I'm now convinced that the cuisine is getting even better. On our last visit, we shared a bowl of asparagus soup with shaved truffles that was among the best soups I've tried. Our appetizers were fried artichokes (delicious and rare in Portland) and grilled asparagus with fried egg; both superb. We got two smaller plates as "entrees": an appetizer portion of garganelli (hand-made penne) with the best ragu I've ever had and a roast quail stuffed with wild mushrooms. I have no idea why this restaurant doesn't have a long line waiting to get in, every night. It's even reasonably priced.
finally found some great gnocci – Since having some great gnocci out of the country last year, I have been searching for a similar taste in portland. I found it at this sellwood restaurant. The place was quiet on a Sunday evening, and the service was very good. Bread was extremely tasty, and the entrees were excellent. I had a lamb dish and my wife had the gnocci and they were both excellent.
As previous reviews have mentioned the prices were a bit on the high end and the portions are not huge. But the food was high quality and the taste was excellent so I will be back.
Wonderful Service and food – We went for a celebration. We arrived right after work on Thursday night with plenty of seats available. Our waiter was friendly and helpful. The food was excellent. We started with Calamari which was tender, but about average for a nice restaurant. We each ordered a salad. My pomegranate salad was excellent. My partner ordered a romaine salad which had a funny taste. Our waiter noticed right away she didn?t care of it and let the kitchen know. Next came pasta. Wow is all I can say. The one dish had noodles (don?t know the name) which was made with lemon zest in the noodle. It had a wonderful lemony sauce with clams. She ordered the smaller size (many pasta dishes come with the choice of a starter size or regular meal size). I had the Agnolotti which is sweet corn and mascarpone filled pasta with butter poached lobster. Wow was it fantastic!! A nice portion but might have been a bit small for a man. However, that would leave room for more fantastic food. Our waiter brought us dessert as he saw the cards on the table. It was on the house! We also had a lemonchello (not sure the spelling) which we were told they make themselves. It was alsovery good. When we received our bill we notice they did not charge us for the salad, dessert and the one lemonchello (we had only ordered one. Our waiter said the second was on him for our celebration). We definitely will be going back and bringing friends and family?starting next week.
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