Portland restaurant review: Oven & Shaker

Recently, I was given the opportunity to write a restaurant review for Forest Heights Life Magazine a Portland neighborhood-specific monthly magazine owned and operated by a friend who is a mover and shaker in the industry. I jumped at the opportunity to contribute to this great publication, and to submit an objective piece on a downtown restaurant- a place a rarely go for food or drinks- {I’m an east side kinda gal} … Enjoy!

Photos courtesy of: Beth Olson Creative

Oven and Shaker Restaurant

Located in the heart of the Pearl District, you will find a new take on an old classic at Portland’s own Oven & Shaker. Headed by three of the Rose City’s most well-known restaurant leaders, Oven & Shaker has a simple and savory menu that highlights the best of Italian street food and wood burning oven pizza. The exposed kitchen gives guests a delightful glimpse into the poetic process of dough tossing and the evident camaraderie amongst the kitchen staff.

Oven and Shaker Restaurant

If the authentic crust is the reason you walk through the doors, the extensive and innovative drink menu is why you stay, and perhaps stay longer than you intended. Portland native and esteemed bartender, Ryan Magarian, offers patrons an intriguing list of libations that appeals to every taste. His hand crafted menu offers drinks from three categories: fresh, dry, and strong, as well as a rotating drink special. The first round had us enjoying two very different styles of drinks, each showcasing the versatility of citrus. My first drink incorporated Flor de Cana rum, fresh squeezed lime juice, and Stumptown coffee liqueur into a refreshing, well constructed beverage. My sister ordered a classic Old Fashioned featuring Buffalo Trace bourbon, simple syrup, bitters, and lemon and orange oils. It’s amazing what a little vitamin C and quality spirits can do for curing the Pacific Northwest winter blues!

Oven and Shaker Restaurant

The Nostrana arrived halfway through our first round, a radicchio salad with parmigiano, rosemary-sage croutons and a caesar style dressing. One salad was more than enough for both of us, but we made sure not to leave any thing behind on our plate. Next came the Arancini, simply put, stuffed rice balls. Wild mushroom risotto, smoked mozzarella, and tomato ragu complemented the salad and prepared us for the main course.

Oven and Shaker RestaurantOven and Shaker Restaurant

We watched in hungry anticipation as our pizza was removed from the oven and placed in front of us at the bar. Tomato, broccoli rabe, basil, lemon and a shitaki mushrooms surrounded impressive placements of goat cheese, and we eagerly devoured every bite.

We chose to be adventurous with our second round of drinks; my sister ordering the Breakfast in Bed drink special, a boozy, maple syrup concoction. As I looked over the menu, she pointed out a nondescript line of text stating, “ask your server about our secret menu”. I was handed a simple black binder filled with page after page of vintage drinks dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, a Ryan Magarian nod to the history and craft of mixology. I ordered the Brown Derby, a smokey flavored drink infused with grapefruit juice. Each sip revealed a more complex and ever changing palette -I recommend this drink for the flavor adventurer, and it’s fun to think that 90 years ago folks were enjoying this same drink.

Oven and Shaker Restaurant

Oven & Shaker will appeal to the unassuming foodie as well as the arbiter of cocktails. On any given evening plan on seeing couples, families, and groups of friends enjoying what this restaurant does best. You owe it to yourself to visit this gem in the Pearl, and to stay longer than you should.

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