Just Opened: Ava Gene's

What you need to know about Duane Sorenson's new Italian restaurant

By Karen Brooks January 23, 2013

Chicken livers with Marsala-soaked raisins

In the Southeast Portland neighborhood that birthed his Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Duane Sorenson has brewed up a personal take on Italian food, crafted for Portland with shout-outs to Brooklyn. In a warm room of smart design and salvaged cool, the menu channels the obsessions of Sorenson and fast-rising New York rustic Italian vet Joshua McFadden: rabid hunts for the best ingredients, farm-fresh evangelism, and homey Italian integrity wedded with a freedom to play. That means flavor-aggressive pastas with a Roman edge; hot steak, chicken, and fish popping off the wood grill; and a wealth of local vegetables in simple but unexpected combinations, like pink-fleshed Mountain Rose apples crowned with honey vinegar. Cocktail whiz Evan Zimmerman is on a small-batch mission to match Ava Gene’s considered Italian wine list with an equally impressive selection of grappas. The night shifts into gear with a cedar-steeped Campari and brakes sweetly with Stumptown gelato—when in Portland, eat and drink as Portlanders do.


3377 SE Division St
Portland, Or 97202

EAT THIS  Chicken livers, grilled to order, mixed with marsala-soaked raisins and heaped on hot toast; Nduja, a decadent, spreadable salami shipped up from San Francisco pork lord Chris Cosentino (the New York Times aptly calls it “hugely spicy, unnervingly soft, extremely delicious”); extravagantly chewy orecchiette pasta holding pork-sausage crumbles, fresh and fiery; a crackling tube of cannolo oozing ethereal ricotta 

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