Archestratus, the first food critic, praised Italian cuisine's "top-quality and seasonal" ingredients and "fair-to-middling" ability to tranquilize out-of-control mayors. Today's Groupon similarly stuns, and rightfully so: for $12, you get $25 worth of Italian dishes and drinks at Iorio Restaurant. Todays Groupon requires that guests order at least one entree during their visit; because of limited space in the restaurant, confirmed reservations are required.
Iorio Restaurant has been named to a number of Best of Citysearch lists, including Best Portland Restaurant in 2010 and Best Fine Dining in 2009. Iorio is the last name of chef Christopher Thompson's great-grandmother, an immigrant of Southern Italy and guru of gastronomy whose recipes are the inspiration behind many dishes on the menu. Local, sustainable ingredients populate batches of pasta, ravioli, and pizza dough, and the gnocchi, the hard-to-pronounce, easy-to-eat wonder pasta, is handmade. After slicing and dicing through the overwhelming maze of succulent smells, reward yourself with the beet salad topped with dolce gorgonzola and greens ($8) or the wild-mushroom-and-nitrate-free-pepperoni pizza ($13). The pasta with Manila clams and kale in a spicy garlic-cream sauce ($16) is a taste-receptor treat, and the Carlton Farms slow-roasted pork shoulder braised in madeira and shredded atop a pillow of polenta ($18) is as tender as a hug from Bruce Willis.
Iorio Restaurant is an intimate, demurely lit restaurant that treads the shallow waters between a romantic getaway and a family-friendly gathering place. There is an accommodating kids' menu as well as a drink menu to feed grown-up kids. Patrons also are encouraged to bring their own wine from their personal collections ($16 corkage fee), such as the special grape-juice box that has been fermenting in the back of the cupboard since '98.
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