Restaurants & Bars

Pacific Northwest

[PDX] Bella Faccia, Don Pancho, Lorenzo's, Di Prima

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[PDX] Bella Faccia, Don Pancho, Lorenzo's, Di Prima

extramsg | Mar 19, 2005 08:46 PM

Did a little North/Northeast tasting today.

BELLA FACCIA

Got a slice of pepperoni at Bella Faccia ($2.75). They're large and flat, with a bit of grease on the top. If you try to hold the piece of pie out straight to your mouth it will go limp like Bob Dole pre-Viagra.

The sauce and pepperoni are zippy. In style, they most remind me of Escape from NY, but with options, such as the Vegan (roasted pepper/cashew/tomato base with marinated tempeh and choice of three veggies) or Aphrodite (artichoke pesto base with mozzarella and feta, green olives, roma tomatoes, and fresh basil), that make it more similar to Hot Lips or even Pizzicatto.

I'm no pizza purist. My favorite pizza ever might still be the Cheeseboard's in Berkeley which uses fancy cheeses and toppings. But Bella Faccia's pies are not the Cheeseboard's. In flavor they remind me of the previously discussed Pietro's, but with a less crispy crust. It's that zinginess.

The crust is the pizza's downfall, though. Not so much the texture, which is chewy and flexible, but the flavor. On my first couple bites I could tell something was off and I asked my wife what she thought of the crust. My wife, who's not near as picky as I am, nailed it: "It tastes like saltines," she said. Chewing on the unsauced edge portion, I realized what flavor it reminded me of: Olive Garden breadsticks. Not bad pizza, especially if you have lots of flavorful toppings, but not great pizza either. Seems like a good neighborhood joint, but not a place I'll go out of my way for. 2934 NE Alberta.

DON PANCHO

Comments here and in the Portland Mercury(http://www.portlandmercury.com/2005-0...) had me eager to try this new taqueria opened up as part of the tienda/carniceria next door. I made a little tour of the market first and I must say that they've very much improved their stock. The meats, especially, seemed very nice. Good quality. Looked fresh. Good variety for such a small selection. The produce looked fresh, too. I'd visited there a year or two ago and was very disappointed. Much better now. Do they have new owners?

Just got two tacos para llevar next door, al pastor and pescado ($1.25 each). There were also choices of beef, chicken, and lengua. The pastor (not spit-cooked) had a nice sweet and spicy flavor. I'd prefer the strips of pork to be thinner and grilled more, but they were decent. The fish was more like fish-sausage, ground and spiced. Not bad either, but I'd prefer nicely grilled or fried chunks of fish. Commercial tortillas lightly fried before service. I wouldn't say the tacos here are any better than Bonita or Sirenita down the street.

If I was hungry, I might have tried one of the combo platters or soups. They had menudo, birria, and pozole, eg. Prices are very reasonable. Torta platter is only $3.35. Chicken fajita plate is only $5.99. Most people were getting these platters and they looked better than the tacos, honestly. Not a bad neighborhood taqueria, but not worth a trip. 2002 NE Alberta

LORENZO'S

Open for three weeks, the Oregonian just highlighted this Italian cafe on Mississippi. Wanted to visit Blue Gardenia next door for some baked goods, too, but they didn't appear to be open.

Lorenzo's has a small deli case with fresh pasta, prosciutto, mozzarella affumicata, fresh mozzarella, olives, etc. The deli case also has prepared foods (or samples of foods that can be prepared) like marinated and grilled ricotta, melon and prosciutto, basked polenta with eggplant, triamusu, and so on.

There's a chalkboard menu to the left of the counter. Most of the items are pastas. There are also desserts. Can't remember prices. I think around $7.

We ordered some grilled ricotta, baked polenta, slices of smoked mozzarella, and a dessert. The grilled ricotta had a nice herbacious and spicy flavor, a bit salty, with a rigid texture. The mozzarella was pleasant. The baked polenta was the best item (see picture below), soft with a bit of a crust, topped with blue cheese, eggplant, and tomato sauce (side of lightly dressed greens). We never got the dessert.

There's only the owner running the register, bringing things out, and occasionally helping in the kitchen along with one cook. When they get busy they seem to be a bit overwhelmed. I'll grant that they're still getting used to things and assume it will get better. But they did forget our dessert. But they made up for it by comping us the cheese, about a third of a pound worth. But they do need to work the kinks out -- figure out how to let people taste wine and still not make them wait in line 10 minutes. 3807 N. Mississippi Ave

DiPRIMA DOLCI

I've been there before several times and reported on them, but never had their savory items. Today my wife got a half sandwich, turkey with pesto and provolone on plain roll ($3.75), and I got a bowl of soup, fava bean with carrot cream ($4). The "half" sandwich actually came on a whole, small roll of crusty bread. My wife had a hard time biting through the crust but it was very tasty bread. The pesto was very good. You could taste the balance of basil, cheese, and garlic. The soup had a nice flavor, but the fava bean skins needed to be either pureed more or strained out. They added too much unpleasant texture. The carrot shavings in the scoop of carrot-whipped cream were nice, though, and added a nice sweetness to the soup. Overall a good soup served with a side of crusty bread (see picture here: http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?s...). Great shop and Pat DiPrima is an interesting character and artisan.

Link: http://www.extramsg.com

Image: http://www.extramsg.com/albums/album2...

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