Dinner reservations open after a two-month closure to expand the kitchen, update the interior and build out an event space
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 6, 2019) – Ava Gene’s reopens the reservation books today after a two-month hiatus to double the size of its kitchen, while the staff kept busy at their downtown Portland pop-up, Ava Geno’s. Chef/Owner, and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Joshua McFadden’s seasonally driven, Roman-inspired restaurant reopens to the public at 5pm on Sunday, June 9th. The reopening marks the completion of the first phase of this year’s three-part expansion by Submarine Hospitality to the building at the corner of Division Street and 34th Avenue.
The build out, led by architect/designer Brendon Farrell, makes only minimal visible changes to Ava Gene’s beloved dining room —new brass tabletops, new artwork, an additional restroom, new accent lighting by Rejuvenation, and perhaps most noticeable to longtime patrons —extensive sound dampening throughout the restaurant to improve the acoustics. But behind-the-scenes are where the largest additions were made —a proper wine cellar, an expanded prep kitchen to allow more space for the pasta, dessert and in-house baking programs, as well as a back-door loading area for farms to deliver their produce daily. Patrons will notice a call-out to this final detail on the menu, noting that to date, Ava Gene’s has purchased 105,154 pounds of produce locally since opening in 2012. Soon, Ava Gene’s will expand the dessert menu, offer a pasta tasting menu, bake all bread in-house, and open for weekend brunch.
The second phase, following shortly, includes the opening of Fora, an airy, flexible event space behind Ava Gene’s, which will seat up to 40 people, with more capacity for standing parties. Fora will offer guests menus from Ava Gene’s kitchen, as well as more casual options from Cicoria, when it opens later this summer. Cicoria is the final piece of the expansion at 34th and Division, which will be a 75-seat pizzeria and bar, serving McFadden’s own style of pizza —a thin crust pie merging the tavern-style pizza of his youth in Wisconsin with the crispy pizzas found in Rome (and incorporating pizza-topping skill he learned cooking at Brooklyn’s venerable Franny’s). Cicoria will be fun, family-friendly, and casual, serving a menu of pizzas, salads, and pints of house-made gelato, to dine in or take out.
The seasonal menus at the newly reopened Ava Gene’s will be very familiar to long-time patrons, with the addition of a larger fritti section (an evolving selection of vegetables and seafood, coated in rice flour and lightly fried) , and the return of boards to the giardini (salads incorporating peak seasonal produce) section. As it was in the early years of the restaurant, guests can choose boards of three or four salads to enjoy together. With the reopening set at the end of spring, the menu will be graced by produce at the height of the season — snap peas, asparagus, morels, spring onions and strawberries across all menus. Pastry Chef Nora Mace created strawberry tiramisu to start off the restaurant’s dessert menu.
Submarine Hospitality’s Bar Director Collin Nicholas created nine new cocktails for Ava Gene’s incorporating spring ingredients, such as a gin sour with lemon, elderflower syrup, green strawberry, Beefeater gin, and a float of Lambrusco, as well as a fresh zero-proof cocktail list, with a selection of three changing non-alcoholic drinks (including a take on the gin sour, above). The bar will serve four local beers and ciders, as well as three Italian beers. Submarine Hospitality’s Wine Director Caryn Benke’s award-winning wine list continues to represent a vast survey of the wines of Italy, from the alps to the slopes of Mt. Etna. She also recently began to incorporate wines from the West Coast which focus on indigenous Italian wine varieties, along with West Coast wineries with a strong Italian heritage. She especially enjoys highlighting Italian varieties grown in the Willamette Valley, like Tocai Friulano and Dolcetto.
About Submarine Hospitality
Submarine Hospitality was founded in Portland by Joshua McFadden and Luke Dirks. Through events and restaurants Tusk and Ava Gene’s, Submarine connects diners to a community of local chefs, servers, farmers, ranchers, artists and designers. An #aggressivelyseasonal ethos guides all of their projects. In 2018, Submarine Hospitality opened La Neta in downtown Portland in partnership with The Hoxton Portland, followed by the hotel’s basement cocktail bar and Tope, a rooftop taqueria. Ava Gene’s reopened after a two-month kitchen expansion and interior refresh in the spring of 2019. This summer, Submarine will open an event space behind Ava Gene’s, called Fora, followed by their newest restaurant, Cicoria, a casual 75-seat pizzeria and bar next door to Ava Gene’s, serving crispy-crust pizzas inspired by those McFadden enjoyed in Rome and the tavern pizzas he ate growing up in Wisconsin. Submarinehospitality.com Instagram: @avagenes @tuskpdx @submarine_hospitality