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[PDX] Gino's

extramsg | May 10, 200502:13 AM

Went to just get a couple slices at Sellwood Public House, maybe a salad, and see how they were, but what they were was closed on Mondays. (AOL's hours for them are totally off.) Even though we were trying to save money, we decided to give Gino's a try.

You enter though the bar, all dark woods -- a classic interior -- and walk back to the restaurant. The restaurant has several tall, older booths along one wall and tables with red and white checked tablecloths throughout. My wife found the interior a bit old and the smell a bit musty. I thought it more ... quaint. Sure it's old and could maybe be refurbished a little, but it probably retains much of the character it's had for decades, maybe much longer.

I don't have the menu with me, but it seemed very Italian-American -- lots of red sauce, nothing too adventurous, many standards. They do claim to buy all their produce from local organic farmers and they have a steak section and get their beef from a local/organic producer specially cut for them.

My wife and I split a small Caesar for a little under $11 and each got a pasta dish, her the vegetarian ravioli and me the Gramma Jean's. Each was just under $15.

Portions are large. The small Caesar was nearly a meal for two in itself. It was redolent with garlic and anchovies and had nice fresh lettuce and crisp croutons. Wasn't a great Caesar, but it was good.

My wife's ravioli were possibly a little undercooked. I like pasta more al dente than my wife, but even for me they were a bit stiff/chewy. Again, the portion was sizable, but the flavors were mediocre. They had a cheese filling and were topped with a tomato sauce and cooked greens. The sauce was the problem. Too one-dimensional. I'd say it wasn't much more than tomato that had been briefly cooked.

The Gramma Jean's was much better. It's penne in a tomato sauce with braised ribs, sausage, and other pieces of meat. It has a noticable fennel accent and a rich, deep flavor. Not fantastic, but good quality home-cooking. And it's a massive pile of food.

Each came with garlic bread. The bread was fine, but the flavoring needed more umph. Even my wife, who likes these much blander than me, thought so. (Actually, she brought it up while I was thinking the same thing.)

Overall an enjoyable meal at a reasonable price. Service was rather uneven, but not bad. I don't think I'll go out of my way to get back there, but I'd certainly consider it whenever in the Morelands.

btw, steak prices are much higher than prices for other dishes -- much closer to steakhouse prices, mostly around $30.


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