Update 12/21/2009: We’ve received notice that their wheat pastas now contain egg, how awful! This wasn’t the case in 2007 during out visits, but they do offer a gluten free rice pasta, in case you find yourself here – and as always, inquire, inquire, inquire!
Date: August 16, 2007
Times Visited: 3
An all vegan Italian restaurant is the type of the place my dreams and realistic boredom are made out of. I’d like to see it happen, but at the same time I know I can rip open a bag of organic pasta and pour some sauce and veggies over it at home for cheap. At the same time, I’ve always been a sucker for great Italian food, even after becoming vegan, from manicotta, minestrone and pasta e aglio. As for the boredom, most vegans have spent family dinners out inquiring if pasta is vegan and ordering a lackluster bowl of it more than once. For me, this happened a lot at Bertucci’s and the local Italian restaurant among others during my college years. For Portlanders, Pastini Pastaria solves those woes by offering a positive experience for that ‘family in town is willing to not eat burgers tonight’ situation, especially with most dishes from $5-9.
With over seven veganizable options (ask for no cheese and request vegan), their pasta dishes include seasonal produce and a friendly amount of garlic. The restaurant is all about choice. When my partner’s parents in town, I ordered the Rigatoni Siciliano, minus the cheeses, extra garlic. This was a saucy and flavorful combination of chopped kalamata olives, capers, fresh tomato, sweet sundried tomatoes and herbs. Pasta dishes come with a small side of bread, and the servings are sizeable while not making you feel like a glutton. I didn’t finish my plate, but didn’t have enough to justify leftovers. I’ve also enjoyed the capellini pomodoro, though a bit plain – I should have asked for extra garlic, and the ziti con broccolini. As the menu says “simple food is good for the heart”.
You can choose from 12 pasta varieties: the tortellini and ravioli are never vegan, although you should always double check, the others typically are vegan. These include pastini, ziti, capellini, spaghetti and fettucine. There is also whole wheat penne available for an additional 99 cents.
Pastini’s is a kitchen that relies on olive oil, not butter – a relief. There are no vegan desserts, but there is a selection of some vegan friendly beers, and affordable wine. There are also vegan(izable) appetizer options, including an olive assortment and the bruschetta della mama (inquire about the spicy marinara). Pastini also offers one of my favorite vegetables, broccolini. The service is good and the food comes incredibly quickly, even during busy times.
With 5 Portland area locations, while it’s largely a restaurant I’d go to with family or clients, I have stopped by without them as well.
Rating: 3.25 out of 5
Address: 2027 SE Division St. Portland, OR 97202
Hours: Mon-Thur 11:30 – 9; Fri-Sat 11:30 – 10; Sun 4 – 9