ISSUE 55  |  Roman Holiday

A Trattoria with Charm to Spare

January 17, 2013 9:30 PM

BY Alexa Hotz

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When co-owners Giovanna Parolari and chef John Taboada opened Luce (which was recently named fourth Best New Restaurant of 2012 by Bon Appétit) in Portland, Oregon, they were looking to recreate the feeling of a small Italian alimentari, like those they frequent on trips to Italy: "Basically, a casual place filled with old men playing cards, drinking, teasing each other, and eating lunch with the ladies in the kitchen yelling at them all the while," says Parolari.

On a recent trip to Portland, I visited Luce on the recommendation of several friends; we went for dinner the first night, and then the next, and the next. There is an ease to everything at Luce, from the decor, food, and in-house corner store stocking Iris Hantverk brushes, Khadi & Co. linens, and imported Italian ingredients. In addition to the restaurant, Luce hosts a simple events space next door that is, as Parolari says, "inspired by our own disappointment in over-decorated event spaces while researching for our own wedding."

Visit Luce at 2138 and 2140 E. Burnside in Portland, Oregon; see their blog, Luce Events, for more information.

Photography by Jaclyn Campanaro.

Above: Taboada and Parolari, who also own nearby restaurant Navarre and cultishly admired shop Una.

Above: Shaker-style black Salt Chairs (available at Design Within Reach) and orange barn pendant lights with silver-tipped bulbs.

Above: A bowl of ready-to-crack walnuts sits on the restaurant's back countertop.

Above: A simple pasta dish; Luce is, as Bon Appétit's Andrew Knowlton says, "almost monastic in its affinity for stripping dishes down to their essential ingredients."

Above: Hand-carved cutting boards hang on a side wall (for more about the boards, stay tuned for our Design Sleuth post).

Above: Photograph from Luce Events blog.

N.B.: Traveling to Portland? See 29 places to visit in our Portland, Oregon, City Guide.