Translating to ‘the usual,’ the downtown restaurant celebrates modern red-sauce cooking and puts an Italian stamp on classic cocktails.
PORTLAND, Ore. (April 16, 2018) – Spaghetti and meatballs. Shrimp scampi. Chicken marsala. These classic Italian-American dishes serve as the inspiration for Il Solito, opening tomorrow on the corner of SW Washington and Broadway Street. Housed in the former Pazzo space, adjacent to Kimpton Hotel Vintage Portland, Il Solito pays tribute to New York’s Italian dining scene circa 1960, with a food and drink menu that emphasizes flavor and execution, but doesn’t overcomplicate it.
Executive Chef Matt Sigler, who has built a cross-state following for his regional Italian cooking, is focused on extruded pastas in the form of bucatini, spaghetti and linguine. Hand-rolled and stuffed noodles, alongside shareable antipasti, seasonal salads and hearty meat dishes round out the menu. The restaurant name, which translates to ‘the usual,’ is a reflection of the familiar style of food and service. Diners can dig into plates of red sauce spaghetti, topped with house-ground meatballs and ricotta; tagliolini with manila clams, white wine and toasty garlic bread; a Caesar salad of romaine, kale and shaved grana; and house porchetta atop shelling beans, dressed with salsa verde and crispy pork skin.
“I grew up with Italian grandmothers, so this is comfort food to me,” said Sigler. “We want people to come back time and time again and still get that nostalgic feeling about the menu. A lot of people know Italian-American cuisine, but we’re adding fresh touches here and there to bring something new to Portland’s dining scene.”
The restaurant’s full-scale bar is led by Bryan Galligos and features a menu of mid-century cocktails with an Italian tilt. Stocking an ever-growing selection of amari, he uses the herbal liqueur to lend a distinct Italian flavor to a range of cocktails, with drinks like the Vito Corleone (Laphroaig 10, Disaronno, Averna Amaro) and the Italiano Messicano (Espolon Reposado, Luxardo Bianco, Cocchi Americano). The bar also boasts a brand-new tap system with eight rotating beers and an extensive wine list, focusing on Pacific Northwest and Italian varietals by the glass and bottle.
For both the restaurant and bar, the old-world, meets new-world design is about the communal experience of Italian dining. Il Solito’s interior is a nod to the legacy of Italian-American restaurants, displaying iconic design elements in a Portland way. A gallery wall of framed photos shows off pasta shapes, snapshots of the Italian countryside and classic Italian autos, while large-scale murals of black-and-white photographs – with the occasional gold accent frame – take the place of traditional family portraits. The front of the 12-seat bar and entry walls are inlaid with mix-matched, handmade tiles, giving it a curated and authentic feel. The $3 million project was designed by Dawson Design Associates and brought to life by R&H Construction.
The dining room and bar side – which seat 90 and 60 people, respectively – will be open seven days a week with breakfast service from 7 to 10:30 a.m. and dinner between 5 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Weekend brunch and lunch will launch in the weeks to come. For more information, visit www.ilsolitoportland.com, and follow Il Solito on Instagram (@ilsolitopdx) and Facebook (facebook.com/ilsolitopdx).