Affordable, flavorsome, and with a huge variety of dishes to choose from, Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It’s also one of my favorite foods (like many others!)
The food-loving city of Portland is home to many fine Italian restaurants, some casual, some elegant, but most pretty fantastic. I spent many hours scouting out the best Italian restaurants and here are top favorites in Portland, Oregon…
This Italian spot on NW 23rd Place offers just the right mix of casual yet elegant food from the old country – lots of homecooked food including different kinds of pasta, including lasagne and ravioli. However, there are plenty of other dishes with a unique spin on your favorite Italian foods.
It’s a cozy authentic place in the style of a traditional Trattoria and the staff are exceptionally friendly, I love it. The dishes have a traditional style with hearty portions that won’t leave you hungry. Popular dishes include Salmon Toscana, Linguini Fra Diavolo, and the incredible bruschetta.
Dine-in or take-out from 4:30 p.m., but closed from Sunday to Tuesday. I’d recommend trying my favorite dish the incredible Eggplant Parmigiana.
Go-to family restaurant
Wide variety of pasta
Vegetarian options available
Unique Italian dishes
They are striving to be the best Italian restaurant in Portland, and with the praise they get, they’re doing pretty well with their aim!
Degario’s Ristorante is a charming place that prides itself on serving handmade pasta and pizza as well as drinking craft beer, and wine, and I suggest trying their incredible cocktails, Italian, of course!
Located in NW West Union Rd, they also offer vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, and the happy hour is very popular too.
Inside a shopping centre
Diverse dietary options
Craft beer and cocktails
Happy hour popularity
Limited parking space
May get crowded
Closed on Monday-Tuesday
Gilda’s Italian Restaurant
The murals on the walls lend this restaurant plenty of old-world Italian charm and ambiance.
Located on Morrison Street, you can satisfy almost any Italian food craving here – pasta, pizzas, and plenty more, and Gilda’s focuses on local, sustainable ingredients when making its dishes.
Open Wednesday until Sunday, from 4:30 on.
Authentic Italian cuisine
Emphasis on organic and local ingredients
Cozy and old-world Italian ambiance
Wide menu variety
Pastini Italian Restaurant
Located on SE Division Street, Pastini is open seven days a week, starting with lunch at 11:30.
This spot does a contemporary take on old-world favorites, like lasagne, spaghetti with meatballs, and other classics.
Pastini caters to folks with a hankering for rib-sticking Italian foods but tips its hat to modern eating habits by offering gluten-free versions of some portions of pasta.
Authentic Italian flavors
Extensive pasta menu
Open seven days
Contemporary twist on classic
Can get crowded
Whether you dine in or get a big order to take home to the family, Mucca Osteria specializes in handmade pasta that delights the taste buds and doesn’t break the budget.
The restaurant has a lovely, romantic feel, so take time to sit, sip a glass of Chianti, and order a steaming bowl of spaghetti. Open every day but Sunday, from 5 until 10 p.m. Located on SW Morrison.
Handmade pasta delights
Romantic Italian ambiance
Affordable dining option
Convenient location in Portland
Gino’s Italian Restaurant & Bar
This family-run establishment has been a hit with Portland residents for nearly 24 years, and it’s now doing indoor dining once again, along with pickup orders.
Located on 13th Avenue in Sellwood, Gino’s offers up classic Italian fare like Caesar salad and other expected dishes but also has some delightful surprises.
Try the sausage on polenta, or if you’re really hungry, go for “Grandma’s Jeans,” a dish of pork ribs, beef, and tomatoes spooned over penne. The portions are generous so you may be taking some home! Open daily from 4 p.m. until 9.
Ava Gene’s Italian Restaurant
Ava delights its customers with a chic atmosphere and plenty of inventive cocktails to start, then dishes up everything from a beautiful beet salad to more substantial and traditional Italian fare, including gnocchi fritto and lamb ragu pasta.
While Ava Gene enjoys hosting romantic diners, it makes a point of welcoming families, too. Located on SE Division Street, open on Thursdays only right now.
Traditional Italian cuisine
Local wine selection
Packed on weekends
Luce Italian Restaurant
Luce is a small place filled with big flavors. Open daily from 4 until 10 p.m., Luce makes its pasta and has a grocery store on site so you can stock up on your favorites and take them home!
Dine in, take out, but no delivery. Located on Burnside Street, Luce features seasonal ingredients in many of its dishes, so the menu varies from month to month.
Seasonal ingredients for unique dishes
Convenient onsite grocery store
Trendy and intimate atmosphere
No delivery service offered
Limited operating hours
Cibo Italian Restaurant
This eatery, located on Division Street, is known for the fabulous pizzas that emerge from its wood-fired pizza oven. Whether you want one piled high with meat or chock full of veggies, Cibo no doubt has a pizza to fit your preference.
The cocktails are famous for their originality with locals and visitors alike – the perfect kick before the pizza arrives! Open daily from 4 until 10 p.m.
Authentic Italian pizza
Wood-fired oven for flavor
Diverse pizza toppings
Unique cocktail selection
Packed on weekends
Potential wait times
The menu at Mingo is big enough to satisfy even the most discerning Italian food lover, and the restaurant has a wine menu to match – big, bold, and offering something for everybody.
After having a glass of red, try the gnocchi, or the warm roasted beets with herb and yogurt dressing, followed by the scallops with risotto and herbs.
For the meat lover in the crowd, there’s the Chianti and espresso braised beef, or perhaps the lamb chops with pumpkin puree? As we said, there is something for everyone.
If you’ve got any room left when your meal is finished, there is a dessert menu that’s almost as big as the wine and entree lists. Mingo is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., Located on NW 21st.
Authentic Italian-American fusion
Extensive Italian wine selection
Diverse menu for all tastes
Cozy and inviting ambience
Lack of chocolate desserts
Closed on Monday
A Cena Ristorante
Situated on 13th Avenue, this Italian eatery lets you dine in or order takeout and is popular for making homemade pasta with locally sourced ingredients.
The room has a chic and elegant vibe. Though it’s closed on Monday and Tuesday, it opens at 5 every other night so that you can sit down to an early feast of dishes and traditional dishes like eggplant parmigiana, Caprese salad, or polenta.
If it’s meat you’re after, try the Bistecca – grilled hangar steak with pine nuts and peppers. There is also an extensive wine list and dessert menu.
Locally Sourced Ingredients
Homemade Pasta Delicacies
Chic and Elegant Ambiance
Diverse Wine and Dessert Selection
Mama Mia Trattoria
At this popular Italian restaurant, the meatballs simmer all day long, and the pasta is homemade. Every day has a different list of specials, all of which make the most of local, seasonal, and fresh ingredients.
Start with a charcuterie board to share with your fellow diners, then move on to favorites like Fettuccine Alfredo.
This spot has gluten-free pasta options for a small fee. Located on the waterfront, on SW 2nd Avenue, Mama Mia also hosts private events, including corporate dinners and family birthday parties.
Gluten-free pasta available
Ideal for private events
Gluten-free pasta incurs extra cost
Limited parking space
Serratto Italian Cuisine
This is one of the city’s most chic establishments, with a long copper bar and private dining rooms to host any event on your calendar.
The food is a lovely balance of Italian with French influences, but you can also get their take on a good, old-fashioned hamburger if that’s your craving.
There is just about everything Italian on Serratto’s menu, too, including fresh pasta and seared sea scallops. Located on NW Kearney Street, open seven days a week starting at 4 p.m.
Refined Italian Mediterranean cuisine
Chic ambiance and copper bar
Private dining rooms for special events
Open seven days a week
Prices can be on the higher side
Limited vegetarian options
Gumba Italian Food Cart
When it’s time for something a little more low-key than some of the swankier locations in Portland without sacrificing an ounce of flavor and zest, Gumba’s is the spot.
This cart, located on NE Alberta Street, specializes in Italian sandwiches and plenty of homemade pasta.
Take home an order of ricca pasta with beef, a fried chicken sandwich, and a few slices of olive oil cake, and let the family relax and eat in tonight. Closed Tuesday, open from 4:30 until 9:30 other days.
Perfect for a low-key experience
Specializes in Italian sandwiches
Offers homemade pasta
Convenient for takeout dinners
Closed on Tuesdays
Limited dining hours
Limited menu variety
Gallo Nero Italian Restaurant
This eatery is hugely popular with Portland’s Italian food fans, so that tells you how good the dishes are.
Billed as an “authentic Italian bistro,” Gallo specializes in the cuisine of Tuscany and offers spaghetti with seafood, antipasto, lasagne, and risotto, along with plenty of other Italian traditional entrees.
Also on the menu is fish stew and pasta sauteed with prosciutto and garlic. Dine-in or order for pickup, open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon until 9 p.m.
Authentic Tuscan cuisine
Outdoor seating available
Popular among Italian food enthusiasts
Extensive menu with traditional dishes
Closed on Monday and Tuesday
Ernesto’s Italian Restaurant
Located on Apple Way, this establishment’s generous portions of many Italian classics, along with a salad bar, make it the ideal locale for a night out with the family or a big group from the office.
Open daily from noon until 9 p.m., Ernesto’s serves up everything folks love about Italian food – rich, cheesy sauces, garlic bread, filling, delicious pastas, and plenty of other fare that delights the senses without breaking the wallet.
There are desserts, too, and good wine by the glass for the grownups in your group.
Packed on weekends
Limited wine selection
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Scott Balaam – writer and photographer
Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter.
Hotel Reviewing Experience –Asked by many tourist boards and many high-profile travel brands to formally review hotels including Visit Sweden, OET (Spanish Tourism Office), Sultanate of Oman and Travel Alberta. Also travelled around the world scouting out and reviewing all the most unique hotels in the world, check out our Instagram page for photos. Also mentioned as a top UK travel journalist.