Mama Mia (439 SW 2nd Ave., 503/295-6464, http://mamamiatrattoria.com, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. Mon.–Wed., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 5–9 p.m. Sun., $10–20) is about Italian cooking as comfort food, glorying in the Americanized southern Italian food that typifies the Little Italy neighborhoods of New York City and Philadelphia. Come for classics like eggplant parmigiana, linguine with clam sauce, and chicken scalloppine. All the sauces and pastas are made in-house, and the meats and produce are all local; even the mozzarella cheese is made in-house daily. The dining room is a lively place that looks like a cross between a traditional trattoria and a high-class bordello, and the bar is a good spot to meet friends.
Downtown Portland’s finest Italian restaurant, Pazzo (627 SW Washington St., 503/228-1515, 7–10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., and 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4:30–11 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4–9:30 p.m. Sun., $16–33), has charm to spare and a broad menu of well-prepared pastas and grilled meats. Located in the exquisitely renovated Hotel Vintage Plaza, this is a wonderful spot for a lively sophisticated meal with friends. Great desserts, designer pizzas, and low-priced gourmet take-out items can be found at Pazzoria Bakery next door.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel