11 May 2009
Early summer keeps trying to break out in the Portland area. Of course it is still being held in check by generous doses of the usual cloud cover, but even now thought the forecast for today is all about rain, the sun is threatening to peak through.
At times this tension plays out with some delightful results. One afternoon last week steel gray clouds gathered in the eastern sky as sunbursts punctuated the western horizon. The combination made for a powerful drama of light and dark as the sun-tinged colors of the landscape sang against that dark sky. The contrast sent me out with my coat and my camera searching for rainbows. I was able to get a picture of this modest one.
By the next morning the sky had turned calm and gorgeous. The sun and bright blue skies brought everyone out in their shorts and sandals and put a smile on their faces. The clear sunshine was so inviting I decided to leave the dark confines of my office and go out to lunch. Destination: 360° Pizzeria.
360° Pizzeria is owned by Brad Root who also owns Roots and Lapellah in Vancouver. 360° Pizzeria offers casual traditional style comfort food, recalling the classic American pizzeria while updating it with an infusion of fresh local ingredients and northwest influences. It has indoor seating as well as a pleasant garden area with tables in front of the restaurant. Though it is on the sidewalk at the corner of a strip mall on 192nd the outdoor seating area is spacious and attractive. I would love to have sat there in the sunshine. Unfortunately it was still a bit chilly for me. I opted to sit inside in the window instead with a tall glass of iced tea.
Though I ate at a pizzeria where the pizza sounds great and gets good reviews, pizza is not what I usually order. Instead, I prefer their salads and small plates, which are reasonably priced and delicious. I ordered the Arugula Salad with Pears, Gorgonzola and Walnuts.
This salad, tossed with just the right amount of dressing was laced with thin strips of ripe sweet pear. The cheese added the perfect contrast, tangy but not overpowering. The unadorned walnuts added a welcome bit of crunch and substance.
I also ordered White Bean and Roasted Garlic Spread. It comes in a small ramekin with a crusty edge and a small pool of olive oil on the top. It is accompanied by a plate of sliced and grilled focaccia bread to spread it on. The combination of flavors and textures is a thing of beauty, well balanced with just the right amount of crisp resistance.
My companion ordered the Spinach Salad with Olives, Pine Nuts, Feta Cheese and Tomato Vinaigrette. It looked really good but I neglected to ask for a taste. It seems I was completely distracted by the arrival of his Bruschetta with Sautéed Calamari, Tomato and Garlic.
For $5 he had a full plate including a small salad of dressed greens and a thick slab of focaccia, brushed with olive oil, grilled and piled wih freshly sautéed bits and pieces of calamari, diced fresh tomatoes and sliced garlic. The presentation was stunning. The flavor was fresh and savory. It was absolutely beautiful and interesting. It made a perfect light meal for a bright afternoon in May.