Tuscan-style food alive and well at Gallo Nero in Portland

Why did Davide Filippini call his Portland, Oregon restaurant Gallo Nero?  If you have time to sit down over a glass of prosecco and chat with him, you will find out the whole story.  Anyone familiar with the story of Chianti Classico will understand for themselves, but for the rest, the black rooster visible in the center of the logo has ties to that famous Italian wine; this article may give you a better idea.  Certainly, Davide has more than 50 different producers of Chianti Classico at the charming little trattoria in the heart of Northwest Portland.

Davide is a fan of not only Chianti Classico, but of the complete variety of wonderful foods and wines of his native Tuscany.  His grandfather owned a restaurant and four of his uncles were in the restaurant business. While running a restaurant is hard work, it is also clearly rewarding and it seems that Davide’s Italian family instilled a love for food and wine in him that carries through to the present.

Davide opened his first restaurant in Castiglione dei Pepoli, Toscana and was the owner there for four years. He subsequently worked as a chef in several cities in Italy until he was drawn to Portland nine years ago.  He opened the Gallo Nero Trattoria in 2012.   

When asked what was his favorite aspect of the job, he indicated that the creativity he can apply to the dishes he creates at the restaurant is the aspect that he enjoys most.  He offered as an example the Scorfano di Cartoccio – Rock fish in the typical Italian thin “parchment”,  with mussels and clams that he featured on the menu the evening we chatted.

When you are in the Trattoria you feel as if time has slowed down and you are actually in Italy.  Not only is there a nice, relaxed pace and atmosphere at the Trattoria, but you very often hear groups of people speaking in Italian, a sure sign of the local Portland Italian cultural ecosystem that nurtures restaurants like Gallo Nero.

One example of how the local community collaborates is the long-time partnership of Caffè Umbria and Gallo Nero.   Davide feels that the authentic experience of Italian-style dining is important, including good coffee.   So, having a nearby provider of authentic, quality espresso is important. Both businesses are expanding in popularity, with Caffè Umbria opening a new store in Portland soon.

Davide has also found providers for other key products like Prosciutto Toscano.  He wants to stay true to his roots as a chef in Italy and prefers the Tuscan variety to the more common varieties such as Prosciutto di Parma.

However, he is also quick to point out that there are some things that you just can’t duplicate. One example: Portland’s climate does not produce ripe, juicy tomatoes like you find in Italy.  Davide has an answer to that, too.  He made a wonderful tomato jam with tomatoes that he slow-ripens to condense the tomato flavor to complement his take-off on the classic Insalata Caprese (in photo). 

As you would expect: the dishes are made in-house fresh every day (he points out that Lasagne actually takes 10+ hours), with authentic ingredients. 

Hungry yet? Here is the link to the site for the restaurant: www.galloneropdx.com

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