Nostrana—literally 'ours'—invokes local. Simple food from honest ingredients. Pure. Regional. Italian. Nostrana utilizes locally sourced and natural ingredients to create delicately crafted Italian cuisine.

Dinner Sun–Th 5–10
Dinner Fri–Sat 5–11
Lunch Mon–Fri 11:30–2

Reservations recommended

Chef Stories: Ben moving on and up!

Last week we bid farewell to Ben Grossmann, an energetic sous-chef and loyal member of the Nostrana family. We’re sad to see him go, but are thrilled for his exciting new opportunity as head chef at Dig A Pony. Thankfully Ben is not straying too far, as he heads down the street to one of our favorite neighborhood hangouts. In honor of his inspiring 3.5 years in Nostrana’s kitchen, we decided to share with you his story from biology student to chef-dom.

 

What was your path to the kitchen?

I was born in Portland and went to Lewis & Clark to study biology. I always thought I wanted to become a teacher. After graduating I started running an after school program for kids. The kids were going home and telling their parents that the food I was cooking for them was better than anything at home. Soon enough I found myself running a catering business for these families. I loved cooking and decided to save up for culinary school.

What was your first job in a restaurant?

Washing dishes of course! But I soon moved up to salads, then grilling.

What’s the best part about being a chef?

We’ll always be poor, but we’ll never be hungry!

What’s your favorite dish to make?

Truffle sausage ragu. I love making the sausage from scratch. It’s a special dish that we make at Nostrana for New Year’s Eve.

What’s the #1 lesson Cathy instilled in you during your time at Nostrana?

The value of treating everyone in the restaurant like family. You don’t have to be a stereotypical ‘yelling chef’ to be successful. There’s a lot of love in that kitchen. We mourn our troubles and celebrate our successes together, like one big family.

What’s the key to moving up the ranks quickly?

Be a jack of all trades and always show up. Before I started my career, I was really inspired by Jackie Chan’s bio. Instead of trying to be #1 in one area, try to be 2nd best at everything.

If you could only eat one dish at Nostrana for the rest of your life what would it be?

Any of the dishes with octopus like Octopie or our Spanish-inspired octopus salad. Or the oysters! I learned to shuck oysters when I was 5 year old.

Any crazy stories from the kitchen at Nostrana?

Ahh, too many! I once cut my finger on the meat slicer when I was cleaning it at the end of the night. I was standing on a milk crate and fell into the blade. Blood was shooting everywhere and the head chef at the time made me go to the emergency room. I sent a message to my girlfriend, “Left pinkie on the meat slicer, be home late.” She misinterpreted my message and thought I had literally left my pinkie sitting there. Haa! (Needless to say, we aren’t together anymore).

Is it true most chef’s don’t cook at home?

I used to cook at lot at home, all my past girlfriends would complain I was making them fat! I like to cook heavy foods. Lately I mostly live off of leftover bread from Nostrana (it’s the best bread in the city!) with salami and cheese.

What’s the best part about your culinary career?

I’m getting to teach after all. I love mentoring new hires in the kitchen. Teaching cooking is way more exciting than teaching math. I also love the camaraderie in the kitchen. There’s definitely a pirate-ship mentality…we live and die together.

What’s your lifelong goal?

I hope to open my own restaurant someday. I have ideas. It will definitely be Southern-inspired in honor of my Grandma who grew up in North Carolina and Arkansas and instilled in me a love for hearty dishes.

We heard the cast-iron skillet cornbread that Cathy served at her New Years day party was a recipe handed down to you from your Grandma. Umm, incredible! Will you let us share your family recipe?

Let me think about that and get back to you. (Please do!!)

Buona fortuna Ben! Come back and see us soon. 

OVEN AND SHAKER FEATURED ON NBC NEW YORK

Watch Ali from NBC New York make pizza with Cathy Whims at Oven & Shaker.

Olio Nuovo Cooking Class with Chef Cathy

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Tired of all the holiday shopping, sales, and running around?
Come in for this year’s Olio Nuovo cooking Class on
Sunday, December 15.

Cathy Whims partners with olio nuovo expert Jeffrey Bergman
of Bergman Culinary Concepts to teach a small group of curious
Italian food lovers about the nuances of these lively olive oils.  

These oils are at their freshest for a limited time so do not miss
this small window of opportunity to sample these extraordinary
oils. 

The class is $85/person plus 18% service charge and includes:

  • The history of olio nuovo
  • A guided tasting and a demonstration that highlights dishes
    cooks can make at home.
  • Wine pairings with each of the four dishes.

Please call Nostrana: (503) 234 2427 to make a reservation
Sunday, December 15th
12:30 - 3:00 pm
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Can’t make the class?  Then stop by for dinner starting
December 16, and sample these oils with your meal.  Nostrana
showcases these incredible olive oils in a variety of ways on the
dinner, dessert, and cocktail menus.

Try a side by side tasting of all four oils with our house made
ciabatta. Many dishes on the dinner menu will be finished with
the oils. You will also see them return in desserts as well as in
the Olio Nuovo cocktail from the Rooster Bar.

Olio Nuovo dishes will be available until our supply of these
new oils is exhausted. Prices vary.

Reservations are available online at www.nostrana.com or
by phone at (503) 234-2427.

Cathy Whims’ Adventures in Italy

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At least once a year, Cathy Whims, takes time out of her busy schedule to travel to Italy for newfound culinary inspiration. Upon her return, we get to live vicariously through all her delicious stories. Read on to discover what inspired Cathy during her Fall adventure in Campania, Italy. 

Where did your culinary tour begin?

I joined Faith Willinger’s tour which began in the tiny fishing village of Cetara on the Almafi Coast. Cetara is a true working fishing village, not touristy at all. Faith invited celebrated chefs to come to Cetara for five days of cooking lessons. 

What chef inspired you?

I loved learning how to make fried pizza from Chef Enzo Coccia of Pizzeria La Notizia in Naples. The pizza was surprisingly light and so amazing with organic San Marzano tomatoes from Mt. Vesuvius and the organic smoked mozzarella from the ancient city of Paestum.  I’m excited to bring his technique to Oven and Shaker. I plan to return to Italy in the Spring for Enzo’s pizza boot camp! I want to master his crazy dough kneading technique.

Where else did you travel?

I was able to spend time in Naples and this time I fell in love with this crazy city. It was my second time there. Naples is intense and high energy, the history is amazing, the food incredible. L’Europeo di Mattozzi is my favorite for Sunday lunch or an evening pizza night out.

What was your most memorable meal?

I had an entire meal of anchovies at Pasquale Torrente’s restaurant Al Convento in Cetara. This fishing village is famous for their celebration of these tiny fish. Every dish was delicious. Pasquale’s bloody mary even had anchovy colatura in it!

Oh and the first night I fell in love with the dinner cooked by Rocco Iannone from Pappacarbone. Still dreaming of his raviolo caprese allo scarpariello.

What’s different about cooking in restaurants in Italy?

There’s not as much hierarchy. I love how over there chef’s call sous-chefs “collaborators”. That’s how it should be. It really is a collaboration.

What surprised you?

The water buffalo spa! We visited Tenuta Vannulo, the world’s greatest buffalo mozzarella producer in Paestum right across from the famous Greek temples.

It was amazing to see how well they treat their animals. It really was like a spa. They had these water jets that the buffalo could walk underneath for a shower and buffing machines they could walk under for a body massage. They can choose when they want to be milked themselves with these automatic machines and the floor of their stable is spotlessly clean.

Check it out here: http://youtu.be/bHuRSl50DdE

What were some of your favorite recipes that you plan to bring back to Nostrana?

Oh, too many choices! The pasta and chickpeas with anchovy colatura by Chef Berardino Lombardo was seriously so good we will be pairing it with olio nuovo we imported from this Fall’s harvest. So excited.

I loved the bruschetta’s we made with beans, escarole and peppers.

The candied tomatoes right out of the oven were amazing. 

I had this really good potato dish that was very simple, pressed through a food mill for a fluffy texture.

What else inspired you?

The use of tiny fishes in so many dishes. Our culture is so focused on the big, overfished seafood. We should use more anchovies and sardines.

I loved learning at Fattoria Alvaneta, an agritourismo farm, about techniques to preserve, pickle and ferment vegetables to make seasonal ingredients last all winter.

How much pasta did you eat?

Oh…so much! I’m still stuffed. You can’t beat the pasta in Italy. Their artisanal small factory handmade pasta is the best in the world. The wheat is just different over there.

Cathy with Chef Rocco…

 

We Got Mail from Italy!

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Dear Nostrana Family,

I tried writing a postcard and failed for a week straight to make it to the post office to mail it. And given my experience thus far with Italian institutions, I had little hope I would succeed in getting it to you before my return. So instead, you get an email with pictures. Print it out and stick it on your fridge!

Do I love Italy? You betcha! Every cliche you hear is true. People are warm, outgoing, social, hospitable, generous. People who had no idea who I was were ready to pick me up, tour me around and stuff me with food.

People such as Pierluigi Crescimano, Sicilian olive oil maker, working his family land in Castelvetrano, where the giant green olives come from. Picked me up in Palermo, took me to the bakery where they bake pane nero, from a dark old wheat, in a century old oven fueled by bales of olive twigs. Then we went up the street to a butcher where we bought pancetta wrapped scallions, sausage, vitello and lamb steaks. Then on to a cannoli maker, who piped me a cannoli with fresh sheep’s milk ricotta. Next we went to a vegetable market piled with broccoli, fennel, eggplant, persimmon, cactus, pomegranate, and on and on.

We took these supplies to his olive plantation, where they were pressing the olives under our noses. We did an official tasting of 6 new oils, making the Hannibal Lecter chianti sound.

The chef grilled the meat over fragrant olive wood. Meanwhile in his 17th century farmhouse another cook, who looked like she was from Oliver Twist, made a porridge of fava beans with fennel, some little anchovy sliders on the pane Nero, salad of iceberg lettuce (prized down here - called cristilano or something!), mandarins, fennel, and pomegranate.

We eat all of this basted in fresh pressed oil, washed down with three Sicilian wines and finished with a cannoli and espresso. Then he loads me up with olives and oils for my apartment in Palermo, drives me back home, speeding, weaving, and smoking the whole way.

And this guy had no idea who I was - Faith Willinger just said an American chef might give him a call. Astonishingly, this is just one of several such adventures I’ve been taken on since I’ve been here.

Am I staying here forever? No! I love you guys and miss you madly. A few Italian clichés turned out wrong - haven’t had a cappuccino nearly as good as Spella. Haven’t had a pizza as delicious as Nostrana (true story). Haven’t had a salad that compares to our Nostrana salad. All reasons I can’t wait to return to literally our food.

But not before I spend my last week in snooty, butter and egg filled Bologna with the lovely Francesca and Tomasso Tori, for pasta making, balsamic, Parmigiano and gelato adventures.

Below some photos from my day in Castelvetrano.

Ciao!

Brian

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Trash Fish Supper

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The oceans have changed more in the last 30 years than in all of human history. Decades of intense fishing have diminished species high on the food chain, opening up a new world of underused, under appreciated and surprisingly tasty fish. Don’t think of it as trash fish—it’s the best seafood you’ve never tried.

On Sunday, Nov. 10, Nostrana will play host to an afternoon “Trash Fish Supper,” featuring four of Portland’s most exciting chefs – Cathy Whims (Nostrana, Oven & Shaker), PJ Yang (Bamboo Sushi), Kelly Myers (XICO) and Kevin Gibson (Evoe) - preparing little-known species in their signature styles. You’ll try YELLOWTAIL ROCKFISH, IVORY KING SALMON, PACIFIC SKATE WING, WOLF EEL and SAND DABS in a multi-course, early afternoon supper with wine.

The dinner will benefit Chefs Collaborative (www.chefscollaborative.org), a national non-profit network of chefs changing the sustainable food landscape using the power of connections, education and responsible buying decisions. Local organizers are part of the Chefs Collaborative network, and also host the annual Farmer Chef Connection.

Tickets to the supper are being sold “Kickstarter-style,” with a range of reward levels and prizes going to contributors, details at www.trashfish.net.

Up for grabs are collectible art prints, a copy of the newly published “Chefs Collaborative Cookbook,” a private gnocchi making class in your home taught by James Beard Award-nominated chef Cathy Whims, a private ceviche and salsa-making class with XICO chef Kelly Myers, and more.

Waste not. Eat well. Do good. Join us on Nov. 10.

P.S. Can’t attend the Trash Fish Supper, but want to support Chefs Collaborative’s sustainable seafood work? Contribute the event (and earn delicious rewards!) at www.trashfish.net


DETAILS:
Trash Fish Supper
www.trashfish.net
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2013, at
12:30 IN THE AFTERNOON

@NOSTRANAPDX
1401 SE Morrison St.
Portland, Oregon

Cathy Whims Four-Cheese Polenta Featured in the Wall Street Journal

Half rustic polenta, half cheesy fondue, this recipe from Portland’s Cathy Whims is pure indulgence →

'FALL IS MY FAVORITE season,” said Portland, Ore., chef Cathy Whims. “Everything tastes so amazing.” This year has proved particularly good for one of Ms. Whims’s favorite seasonal ingredients, chanterelle mushrooms. They always grow prolifically around Portland, but this September they sprouted early, and they have lingered. In her first Slow Food Fast contribution, Ms. Whims uses the fruity, golden mushroom in a ragout, spooned over a sumptuous four-cheese polenta.

Read more…

Friday’s Dinner Celebrates Italian Culinary Legend Marcella Hazan

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Join us this Friday, October 4th for a memorable dinner to celebrate the life and influence of Marcella Hazan. To plan this special tribute menu we shared Marcella stories, reviewed Cathy’s notes from her time studying with Marcella in Venice, and perused our collection of Marcella cookbooks. We’ve enjoyed planning a classic Italian menu that we know would make Marcella proud.

Read the full story of Cathy’s remembrance of her time spent learning from her beloved mentor.

OregonLive: Nostrana’s Cathy Whims remembers her hero, Marcella Hazan

MARCELLA 3-COURSE TRIBUTE MENU: $35

A recollection of Cathy’s first day studying with Marcella. 

Rigatoni Napoli-style, sweet peppers, tomato filets, basil, parmigiano 

Pork Braised in Milk Bolognese-style

Swiss Chard Stalks alla Parmigiano

Green Apple and Grappa Sorbetto

In addition to the above three course tasting menu, a la carte Marcella favorites will be available and our regular seasonal menu.

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Cathy Whims, Marcella Hazan and her husband Victor at Marcella’s book tour dinner hosted at Nostrana. 

A Taste of Feast Portland 2013

We were thrilled to be a part of the 2nd annual Feast Portland festival. For most of the weekend we were working hard in our kitchen here at Nostrana to prep for our big collaboration dinner with Chef Stephanie Izard. We did get the chance to sneak out to a few of the inspiring events and captured photographs of our lovely Cathy Whims in action. Enjoy our Feast Portland 2013 photo blog below. 

Chef Cathy’s cooking demonstration at the Feast Grand Tasting event.

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Scott DeSimon from Bon Appetit Magazine emceed the demo. Elyse Kopecky from freshabits.com assisted Cathy.

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Cathy demonstrated a Venetian-inspired dish called Sole in Soar. We wished we had a crusty baguette to sop up the luscious sauce. 

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We were excited to show our support for GMO labeling by attending the GMO & Transparency Talk. Cathy hosted an after party at Raven & Rose to raise money for Washington’s Yes on 522 campaign. Cathy meeting Robyn O’Brien.

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Chef Stephanie from Girl and the Goat in Chicago and Chef Cathy collaborated to create a memorable menu complemented by local wines from Chehalem and Elk Cove vineyards.

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It was a delicious blast having Chef Steph in our kitchen for the day and night.

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Our Nostrana family behind the dinner’s success. 

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We’re still dreaming of roasted goat necks and reverse ravioli! 

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Cheers to all the organizers and sponsors who make Feast PDX possible!

This thing of Ours: La Cucina Italiana profiles the annual farmer dinner at Nostrana

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On newsstands everywhere and on the web, we’re thrilled to share a look at our annual Farmer’s Dinner with the readership of one of our favorite magazines, La Cucina Italiana.


Find the full article here. A slideshow of the meal may be found here featuring wonderful photography by Dina Avila. Also, find recipes from the meal here.

Nostrana Reservations