A Cena (a chay na) means come to supper. And you will, week after week, for the superlative housemade breads, pastas, and pizza. Plus the special seasonal offerings.
This June and July, it’s all about local artichokes, specifically an ancient Italian dish called Carciofi alla Giudia, which looks like a riotous sunflower and has a seductively nutty crunchiness. Check it out in the restaurant’s newsletter.
In the sea of trendy, hipper-than-hip Portland restaurants, a Cena stands out as an authentic, no gimmicks, neighborhood trattoria.
There’s a perceivable commitment to the quality of the ingredients, which are sourced locally from some of the most committed growers in the region. Folks like SuDan Farm, Creative Growers, Sweet Briar Farms, and Deep Roots Farm.
On a quick read, the menu sounds deceptively simple. The execution is anything but. Take the Corn & Mascarpone Raviolini with Butter-Poached Maine Lobster. Perfect elegance and restraint. Lush pasta, sweet corn and mascarpone are a flavor pairing made in heaven.
But if you can only try one dish, make it Pizza Salsiccia with Housemade Fennel Sausage, Mozzarella & Mama Lil’s Peppers. If you can’t stand the heat, ask your server to hold back on the peppers. And to my palate, the arugula headdress is superfluous, so I would ask to leave that off as well.
Nevertheless, this is quite possibly the best pizza I’ve ever eaten—in my entire life. The magic is in the crust. Oh and the fresh mozzarella. Plus the sausage. Okay, the whole thing is magic.
- Website: http://www.acenapdx.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aCenaRistorante
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/aCenaRisto
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/acenapdx/
- City: Portland, Oregon
- Quadrant: Southeast
- Neighborhood: Sellwood-Moreland
- Address: 7742 SE 13th
- Phone: 503.206.3291
- a Cena | Willamette Week
Copyright 2015 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.