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[PDX] 25 for $25 at Tuscany Grill...

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Restaurants & Bars

[PDX] 25 for $25 at Tuscany Grill...

Nick | Oct 14, 2003 12:42 AM

Well, it's not long before I head to Mexico, so I'm trying to get in at least a couple 25 for $25s in before I go and it's over (then it's to Hurley's for me).

I have to say that Tuscany Grill didn't exactly pick the most interesting of their items for the menu, but they did serve full portions. Here's the menu:

ANTIPASTI

Zuppa del giorno: Wild mushroom soup

Bruschetta: Four pieces of crusty grilled bread topped with the chef's daily selections

Arugula, Endive, and Raddichio with fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette

PRIMI/SECONDI

Spaghettini alla puttanesca: spaghettini tossed in a rich tomato sauce with olives, capers, and a hint of anchovy

Linguine con Vongole e Salsiccia: imported linguine with local hardshell clams and homemade sausage in a white wine sauce with garlic and tomato

Sicilian pork chop: center cut Carlton pork chop coated with seasoned breadcrumbs, baked with pepperocini peppers, and served with garlic mashed potatoes

Petio di pollo diavola: frenched breast of chicken marinated with garlic, lemon, pepper flakes and herbs, grilled and served with brocollini and chifeletti (fried gnocchi)

DESSERT

Tirami Su: whipped mascarpone with ladyfingers soaked in coffee liqueur and espresso

Affogato: chocholate chip gelato topped with whipped cream and espresso

Pear crostada: sliced pears baked in a flaky crust served warm with spic gelato

Boca Negra: rich flourless chocolate cake with blood orange sauce

Panna cotta con mandorle: traditional Italian custard flavored with almonds and topped with caramel

Gelato: daily selections, included vanilla, chocolate, and a few more interesting ones that I can't now remember

***

I ordered the 25 for $25 and my wife ordered off the menu. She had the pasticcio di cipolla (onion tart), the pesce prete saltimbocca (prosciutto wrapped monkfish), and the pear crostada. I had the mushroom soup, the pork chops, and the flourless cake. Before our meal we were served a crusty Italian bread and some large olives with a slightly spicy brine. Good stuff. The olive oil on the table (no butter) had a little bit too strong a bitter or biting aftertaste for me which was helped with a little salt.

The onion tart was quite tasty. It was a free formed tart about 5 inches in diameter wrapped up an inch or two around the edges, showing the nicely carmelized onions in the center. On the side was a decent-sized dollup of goat cheese and some sort of raw mild greens. Everything was drizzled in a balsamic reduction. The reduction was a very good addition. It rounded out the flavors nicely. A very good dish. $8.

The monkfish was good, though I've had, and even made, better. It wasn't as firm and moist as some I've had. It was served with spinach, a nicely cooked hard-boiled egg, and little yellow pear tomatoes. It supposedly came with a rich demi-glaze, but the sauce or pool of whatever at the bottom of the plate was either watered down from the leeched out liquids in the spinach, or just weak. A decent dish, but not really *good*. $19.

The dessert was nice. The spiced gelato was tasty and remained a little subtle so that it didn't overpower everything or require drinks of water to reduce it's flavor as can be the case sometimes. The pears in the tart, free formed as well, were only slightly sweet with a somewhat strong nutmeg flavor. Very nice. $6.50.

My soup was very good. It was really more like a mushroom stew with the liquid not quite covering the masses of softened mushrooms. Not sure all the varieties that were in there. Looked like a few kinds. It came with a piece of bruschetta with melted cheese and the mushrooms were great piled on top of this. Tasty soup and a very good portion. $5.50 on the normal menu.

The pork chops were better than I expected. I had wanted to try the linguine with the clams and sausage. Clams and sausage make such wonderful sauces. But I was trying to limit my carbs, especially knowing I'd have dessert, and I'm not a huge fan of pastas anyway. What I needed was a clam and sausage soup in white wine sauce for my next course. But, like I said, the pork chops were better than expected. It was nice to see they didn't skimp on the portion, giving two chops along with a heap of potatoes (which I didn't eat, but only tasted). The chops were quite tender and juicy, served with the strong pepperocini sauce. Vinegar and pickled-things haters would probably be wise to avoid such a dish, however. A nice spicy, tangy flavor which I enjoy. My one complaint is that he breading is rather pointless. They seemed to have let the chops sit in the sauce after cooking the chops and so the breadcrumbs are all mushy. I know this sort of thing gets done in plenty of dishes out there, but it seems like a mistake to me. The great thing about breading is the texture it adds and that caramelly flavor it gets but is lost with moisture. There could be some depth of flavor added to the dish as well. It is largely high notes without much bass. This is $17 on the normal menu.

The flourless cake was good. I could have used a little more of the sauce, which was quite tasty, since the cake is so dense and rich. Maybe intense chocolate lovers would have thought it was just about right, though. Another tasty dessert. $6.50 on the normal menu.

Overall, a good meal. Not fantastic, but good. The prices are fair, the portions good, and the 25 for $25 saves you some money. I look forward to going back when they have a few more adventurous entrees on the menu. I like that they have a better dessert menu than most Italian places, too. I think it's the best of the Italian places in the Nob Hill/NW Portland area.

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