By Camas Davis May 19, 2009 Published in the January 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

LONG HAS MY MOTHER yearned for the deep-fried balls of risotto known as arancini that she so fondly remembers from her solo journey through Italy some 40 years ago. And long have I offered her suggestions for places that prepare equally delicious examples here in the States, only to repeatedly discover that none is as good as those of her distant memory. Yet, I still try. My latest recommendation? Garden State. A spanking new, silver-bullet food truck that set up shop in Sellwood, right across from the neighborhood’s main library, Garden State’s Italian fare has considerably upped the quality factor of Portland’s street food scene. Not only are the arancini ($4) absolutely superb—ungreasy, fluffy, crunchy and creamy, spiked with just a pinch of saffron—so is the Devil’s Chicken ($10), half a moist chicken that’s intensely seasoned with black pepper, vinegar and red chili flakes and then grilled over a hot flame. Even a simple sausage sandwich with grilled peppers ($5) deserves street cred. Sure, you probably won’t hear a single buongiorno or ciao uttered while you stand truckside, gobbling one of these dishes down, but with food as authentic as this, who cares?? (Closed Mon, Tues.)

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