Scheduled to open this Wednesday at 4:00, my wife and I had a chance to preview the wonderful menu at Tipo last night. Walking in to the bright, modern restaurant, I was immediately impressed by how open and spacious it is compared to so many of Portland’s other area restaurants. Definitely a place that one could go to with a group of friends or a couple of kids in tow.
Tipo offers a full bar, plus a few well-built cocktails with ingredients that play to the restaurant’s Italian focus. I had the Il Moto. Served in a rocks glass, it was a soothing blend of Italian liquor and vermouth, with hints of apple and plum. My wife went for the Il Maglione, served up and made with egg white, this foamy delight tasted of cardamon and lemon. The restaurant also offers a nice selection of Italian beers and wines by the glass and bottle.
The food menu is divided into five sections: raw, plates, pasta, pizza, and dessert. As this was our first visit and a bit of a special occasion as Tipo wasn’t officially open yet, we decided to sample across the whole menu. However, I could easily also see this a great place to stop off for a glass of wine and a big bowl of pasta, or to pick up a pizza after work. The food was all so good and the menu so versitile.
Beginning with the raw, we ordered the sublime Maine scallop crudo. Bursting with fresh ocean flavor, and enhanced with Myer lemon, this dish was the one most reminiscent of owners Chris and Paige Gould’s acclaimed restaurant Central Provisions, but was still made unique by the addition of warm olive oil and bottarga (Italian cured fish roe). Also from the raw section of the menu, the beef carpaccio somehow managed to far exceed our expectations. So tender and flavorful, the beef was reminiscent of the finest prime rib, and the smoked onion aioli and arugula elevate the flavors to a whole new level.
Moving on to the plates portion of the menu, I had a hard time limiting myself: meatballs and gravy, hand-pulled mozzarella, and wood-roasted vegetables. It all sounded so amazing that I wanted to order everything! I can see myself going back to sample more heavily from this section. However, on this first visit, knowing I wanted to try both the pasta and pizza, we limited ourselves to adding the winter greens salad. I am glad we did because it was excellent. So simple, yet delicious! Crisp mixed greens in pancetta, frico (fried cheese crisp), black pepper, and plenty of parmesan. My wife and I devoured this crunchy, savory delight.
Then on to the pasta section of the menu–we were further impressed by the ability to order most of the offerings in either full or half sizes. Planning on also ordering a pizza, we settled in on the half-sized rye Cavatelli served with pork ragu, mascarpone, and oregano. I can’t stress how much I loved this–rich meaty flavors, combined with brilliant textures to yield pure joy!
At this point, you might think we would be so satiated to give up, but we bravely continued on so that we might share our experience with you, our dear readers. I am so glad we did because the pizza was fantastic! The crust is very thin, yet somehow manages to be light and fluffy at the same time. Each bite was a crispy, soft, charred pillow-top, with the most delightful flavors. We chose the lamb sausage version. With its middle eastern spices, plus feta and arugula, the pizza was both deeply satisfying and memorable. The same can be said for dessert, warm Zeppoli with peppered sugar, lemon, and ricotta. Combined with a cappuccino, this perfectly fried and spiced dough provided a sublime closure to our meal.