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In the neighborhood that birthed Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Duane Sorenson has plopped indie glamour right in the heart of the People’s Republic of Portland. Ava Gene’s looks like a million bucks—and it probably cost much more. This is not Portland’s safe, letter-perfect, clothes- line Italy. Ava Gene’s is personal. Iconic rock music, rare and uncut, fills a room of Old World beauty, with Italian grandma curtains to match an awe- some library of Italian wines, cocktail savvy, and a menu of homey and playful Italian dishes. Come with friends, plan to laugh, and order wide and deep, tapping wood-fired “pane” breads, a wealth of surprising vegetables, a hellacious Roman tripe, grunt-worthy pasta with lamb ragù, and simple, lovely desserts.

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