Burrasca’s Florentine Cart Cuisine

A Florentine native nails Tuscan classics for a shoestring budget.

By Benjamin Tepler November 26, 2013

Pappardelle with stewed wild boar

A good litmus test for gauging food-cart quality boils down to this question: “Would you happily pay twice as much at a bona fide restaurant?” The answer at Burrasca is clear one bite into a $7 bowl of inzimino, an umami-bomb of slow-braised squid in a rich, garlicky sauce of tomato, red wine, and spinach. It’s one of Portland's best cart dishes and something you’d happily eat at twice the price. 

Inzimino joins a small list of finds at Burrasca, a new Florentine cart parked inside the quiet lot on SE 28th and Ankeny. Here, the food of Tuscany’s capital gets the handcrafted treatment with cart-baked bread and hand-rolled pasta to boot.

As a child, Owner Paolo Calamai spent countless hours in the kitchen watching his mother and grandmother cook through the Florentine canon. Decades later, he returned to his native Florence to work front of the house at Ristorante Cibrèo, one of the city’s most renowned eateries and a legendary foodie haunt. Now 51, Calamai is helping raise Portland's food cart ambitions with a true taste of Tuscan cooking.

Squid Inzimino

A menu of four Florentine classics rotates with the seasons, with everything—cart-baked loaves of rustic, flakey bread to thick pappardelle—crafted from scratch.

Start with a pitch-perfect ribolita soup ($5): buttery smooth, thick with a strong poultry backbone, and looking celestial with rings of olive oil and a healthy dose of black pepper. Pappardelle al cinghiale ($8) brings silky ribbons of pasta, rich, slow-stewed wild boar and a generous dusting of Parmesan.

If nothing else, come for that inzimino: inky black, singing with intensity, and holding tender rings of squid alongside thick slices of garlic-rubbed, house-baked Tuscan bread.  

“This is only my start,” explains Calamai, who hopes to some day open a fully-fledged brick and mortar. Hand-rolled pasta better than your nonna made it? For $8? Better get it while you still can.

113 SE 28th Avenue
Tues-Sat, 11:30-7pm
Sun, 11:30-3pm

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