Gabriel Pascuzzi from Top Chef Reopens Stacked Sandwich Shop April 11
Though Stacked Sandwich Shop was one of many restaurants to close amid the post-lockdown wave of rising food prices and labor shortages in late 2021, it’s now making a comeback. On April 11, chef Gabriel Pascuzzi, who was a contestant on Portland-filmed Top Chef season 18, will reopen his sandwich shop, formerly located on the inner east side, in Slabtown.
Several beloved sandwiches will return to the menu, including the oxtail French dip sandwich with melted havarti and onions, the turkey-bacon hero with Mama Lil’s peppers, and the smoked turkey reuben with Pascuzzi’s signature “2000-island” dressing with gherkins and castelvetrano olives. But there are also two new sandwiches on the permanent menu.
We had the pleasure of sneaking a bite of the roasted pork coppa sandwich with gremolata, provolone, thinly shaved fennel, and Calabrian chile oil. It hits just the right balance of juicy pork and zippy lemon. With the green curry fried chicken sandwich, with fish sauce and topped with “chicken glitter” (a blend of furikake, nori, and Japanese chile flakes), Pascuzzi threatens to “come for Jojo’s crown.”
Vegetarian options include a Korean-glazed fried tofu number. Seasonal sandwiches are set to come soon, with options ranging from a meatball hoagie to a Cubano to an elk cheesesteak. The biggest difference between this Stacked and its previous iteration, other than the location: Pascuzzi won’t be curing his own turkey and bacon in-house anymore, a dayslong, labor-intensive process. Sides include fries and chips, with salads coming soon. Beer and wine are also in the works.
Stacked Sandwich Shop is located at 2175 NW Raleigh Street, the former home of Sunshine Noodles, as a fast-casual restaurant with two concepts inside. In addition to serving the sandwiches that helped put Pascuzzi on the map as a Portland chef, he’ll also serve grain bowls under the Feel Good concept, which opened in summer 2021 and continues to operate as a takeout-only location in the Goat Blocks. Across the street from the Stacked/Feel Good combo restaurant, Mama Bird is continuing to serve wood-fired chicken and playful sides like charred sweet potatoes with vadouvan curry yogurt. That brings Pascuzzi's total Portland restaurant count to four, a resolute move as he and his wife prepare to welcome a baby girl this summer.
“It’s funny, when I first opened Stacked [in 2017] I was trying to get the Please Louise space over here on the corner,” Pascuzzi says, gesturing across the Slabtown courtyard. “I called, and [the property manager] hung up on me. So now I find it funny that I have these two corners. Life’s kind of ironic in that way.”
In keeping with his other restaurants, Stacked Sandwich Shop (and the new Feel Good) is a counter-service restaurant, outfitted with a kiosk for electronic ordering. The space is outfitted with several four-top tables and a long counter, plus there’ll be plenty of patio seating for when the weather improves. Above the counter, Pascuzzi’s childhood Hulk Hogan plastic lunch box sits on a shelf, along with a Tonka truck, toy fire truck, and limited-edition Trailblazers glasses from Dairy Queen from his childhood.
There’s also a framed 1975 article from Northwest Magazine about his grandfather and namesake, Gabriel Pascuzzi, a master gardener and machinist who traveled to Europe and his native Italy each year, testing heirloom varieties of tomatoes, squash, and eggplants. Though his grandfather passed away before he was born, the younger Pascuzzi inherited his grandfather's reverence for local veggies, sourcing greens and fruit from Sauvie Island farms when possible. Plus, the younger Pascuzzi still harvests tomatoes for Stacked out of the large garden his grandfather planted and his father still tends next to the house his grandfather built near Hillsdale, “back when it was all dairy farmers.”
Notably, Stacked Sandwich Shop/Feel Good are also implementing an automatic gratuity policy—10 percent on to-go orders and 15 percent on dine-in orders, plus a 3 percent employee health and wellness charge that goes toward providing health care and paid time off. That gratuity, as the policy printed on the restaurant’s door explains, is split evenly among all hourly employees. Pascuzzi started that policy in February at Mama Bird. “Being a restaurant owner has never been a comfortable lifestyle for a lot of people. Getting any sort of consistency, I think, is great,” he says.
But Pascuzzi has no plans to return to the sit-down world of fine-dining he came up in. “If I opened a nice fancy restaurant—like, I come from New York City, Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Noma—I would be a control freak,” says Pascuzzi. Instead, he’s thinking about using the Stacked space to host 20-seat Italian dinner pop-ups, much like how he occasionally transforms Mama Bird into a high-end dinnertime steakhouse called Papa Beef.