Not only are the pastas fantastic, Grand Army Tavern also has a menu of excellent no-proof cocktails—behold the Strawberry Fields.
The other night I had a meal at a place I’d been wanting to go for many months: Grand Army Tavern in the Woodlawn neighborhood in Northeast Portland. Despite my #westcoastbestcoast motto, I do love connecting with things NYC out here, and that includes the owners of Grand Central Tavern, as well as my dining companions for the evening, Teri of @teristravels and her husband, both Queens natives; my boyfriend was a long-time Queens resident. I’m so glad Teri invited us to Pasta Night, and there is no doubt that I’ll be returning for their beautiful, lovingly-made pastas.
From what I can tell, Pasta Night has been intermittent but it is a hot ticket when it happens. That said, they are working on remodeling the front portion of the tavern into a separate space in which to host Italian Night on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Sounds like they are shooting to open this in a couple of months. But for now, the Pasta Night popups are something wonderful.
Here are a few of the dishes we had: maccheroni with pork ragu; spaghetti and meatballs; and a lasagne made with spinach noodles that also involved mushrooms. Missing is the chitarra pasta, which was served with clams and cherry tomatoes, but they did post a video of the making of this time-consuming preparation of what I understand was a truly excellent pasta.
Maccheroni with pork ragu
Spaghetti and meatballs
Lasagne with spinach pasta
Here’s the video of the chitarra-making.
My dish was the maccheroni, a pasta I assumed looked like macaroni but obviously I was wrong. It was described as “sort of like penne” but to me it was more like a relaxed rigatoni. In any case, the texture was exactly the way I like it—toothsome yet velvety soft, and the pork ragu was a lighter version of this sauce than I’ve had in the past. It had a lot of meaty flavor, too.
It was a treat to meat owner Anna, and once we all got talking it was like being in a mini-NYC with all the east coast accents; my latent New Yorker came out and I could hear myself sliding into a canter of speech I assumed after living there for 11 years. It was pleasantly melodious and brought back a lot of good memories.
But before I forget, I want to mention again about their dry cocktail menu—fabulous! It is so heartening to see restaurants in this town offer up really thoughtful and tasty non-alcoholic cocktails. I had the Strawberry Fields (strawberry, almond, lemon, vanilla, seltzer) and the sparkling basil lemonade (house basil syrup, lemon, seltzer).
Sparkling Basil Lemonade
Keep an eye on their social media accounts to see when the next Pasta Night is—maybe I’ll see you there!