A few nights ago we visited Lorenzo’s in celebration of my new job opportunity. We find ourselves frequenting NE Mississippi Ave quite often when it comes to food. Living on the boarder of North and South Portland, I feel that we’ve just let the wind blow us, and we keep ending up in NE for dining, church visiting, coffee shops…etc.
Lorenzo’s had a “come in and join the family” feel. You know when there are old people sipping wine and laughing with the wait-staff, you’ve found something. It was raining and the smell of fresh pasta and baked bread leaked through the doors. Actually it leaked through the walls! Despite the rain, Portlanders are holding out for their summer weather: so the front of the house kept the open air retracting walls up. But the smell and sound of rain complimented the dark lighting and red checkered tablecloths nicely.
Our table for two allowed for no elbow room and playing footsie was a necessity. But it set the stage for an intimate dining experience. Our waitress brought out fresh bread in a pale and uncorked our celebration wine: 2006 Madrona Merlot. Our love affair with Madrona began upon recommendation from the Sissons who were avid members of the winery. Nestled in the neatest log-cabin-like tasting room inside Apple Hill on your way up to Tahoe, Madrona proudly represents a number of varietals. Our first Merlot love from them was the 2005- a bold Merlot with uncharacteristically complex notes of spice and soft pepper. A Merlot that fools me is the best kind of Merlot. I love the surprise. The 2006 is a lovely second to its older sister, with cherry, green tea and toasty oak notes and a similar finish that begs for the opportunity to learn the same palate dance in time.
Sipping away, and toasting to the new life God’s graced us with in Portland, our antipasti appeared: Smokey Fonduta. With my lack of Italian training, I’d call this a potato fondue. The fondue was less thick, but with the bubbling flavor of five Italian cheeses. Little fingerling potatoes lay beneath the surface (once again, love the surprise factor). It didn’t take a food surgeon to realize this was authentic stuff.
I then enjoyed the Fresh Black Linguini wrapped with shrimp, scallops and fresh herbs. I learned that traditionally this linguini is dyed black with squid ink. Who said food is only for eating? It’s an ART! The dish was so lovely, seemingly a cioppino with the silky pasta being more the star rather than the seafood. The heat of red pepper flakes rounded out that perfect Trifecta.
Chris could barely stay seated when he heard they had Tiramisu. Tiramisu played a special role during our dating years. It was the dessert we ordered the most when meeting up for a date half way between LA and San Diego. We’re always on the hunt for the perfect Tiramisu. Lorenzo’s was in a little ballooned glass cup. Made with fresh espresso and orange liquor I thought I had found IT! Chris is still on the hunt, while impressed, he admits to liking less traditional and more Americanized Italian. I know, disappointing, but at least he's honest.
We haven’t had bad food in Portland yet. Maybe we’re just easy to please. While we love to explore new places, I would return to Lorenzo’s on any rainy evening.