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Oct 7, 2013 03:35 PM

Piccolo, Portland: go now before everyone discovers how good it is

Big shoes to fill: the Bresca site. Piccolo is really good already, and I expect it to get better. The space has been modified, so that there's a nice 6 seat bar where food can be served, and 12-14 table spaces: feels more airy, less closed in and noisy, than when Bresca was there. Menu is a intentionally limited, more "traditional" Italian: Abruzzo/Calabria focus. Here's the news: a) very vege-piscaterian friendly (4 of 4 :"sputino" (tastes, but nicely sized); 4 of 5 aps; 2 of 5 entrees; b) almost everything locally sourced and house-made; 3) most important, superb flavor profiles. A few examples: house "pickled" bluefish ap, with fennel, as a de-constructed bruschetta; a winter squash sputino with radish and Italian red pepper: full-flavored and savory; the best lamb ragu I've had outsider of Italy, with a lovely orange nose and house-made cavatelli; squid w/ odd-shaped squid-ink pasta, and a wealth of supporting flavors. If I named everything, this review would get too long. Staff are friendly, welcoming, and very wine-knowledgeable. Desserts are fine: deconstructed tiramisu in a layered glass; excellent and interesting cheese selection (2 local; one unusual version of peccorino). Bottom line: there's everything to love here, at reasonable pricing. Piccolo is going to be BIG, so don't wait.

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  1. Shhhh...
    Have to agree. It's the real deal. Great subtle flavors that get better with each bite and do save room for dessert. Wednesday and Sunday are still relatively quiet. No problem walking in those days... for now.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. With my mother in law moving to Portland, I'm there much more often than before, and am always looking for new places to try.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kimfair1

        hi kim, Brunswick is a short 20 minute hop away(and has a neat art gallery at the college- for a lunch and adventure afternoon) and this Tao was a fav spot when we dicovered it last year.

        In the focus on all in-house made everything, similar in aesthetic to North by Northeast in Cambridge.

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Just an FYI on Tao. I believe they were threatened with a lawsuit about their name so they are now Tao Yuan but same everything else and like a rose by any other name...

      2. I went last night for my anniversary and was very happy! The place has a low key, welcoming feel that's very Portland--waitstaff were familiar faces and the service was perfect.

        I liked the well edited wine selection--and the food is so good--again, low key in the best of ways with unfussy presentations. I'm looking forward to working my way through the menu--My partner and I split a whole chicken for 2 entree special, which seemed anniversaryish, and enjoyed the whole process. The Pane carasau with rich house made ricotta is a must order, as are the french press affogatos with liquid nitrogen zapped homemade ice cream.

        The changes to the tiny physical space since Bresca occupied it make the room seem a bit more open and airy-I liked sitting at the dining bar.