Thursday, August 23, 2012

Caro Amico Italian Cafe

3606 SW Barbur Blvd
Happy Hour: 4:00 - 6:00, daily

I had never been to Caro Amico before moving to the west side of Portland, but now it's a definite go to when we aren't in the mood to cook at home. They've got pretty fantastic food, it's a comfortable atmosphere, it's super close by, and they've got a long list of wines to choose from. That, and they always send out coupons in the mail making dinner at Caro Amico a reasonably priced meal even when we go all out with fancy cocktails and dessert. Now that I know all that is on their happy hour menu, even a night without the coupon will result in decent sized meal for a pretty low price.

Happy Hour runs daily from four to six and you are welcome to sit anywhere in the restaurant, including the patio. It was our first time on the patio and it was a perfect evening for it. (I definitely hope to get back before the Portland evenings get too cool to eat outdoors.)

We both started with a glass of red wine while looking over the menu. Bread was delivered promptly and--at my request--was accompanied by a big bowl of marinara. There was no extra charge for the dipping sauce and it made the basket of bread that comes with every meal at Caro Amico turn quickly into an appetizer. Usually I stick to dipping my bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar...but when the table next to us had big plates of pasta delivered just as we were sitting down, I knew I wanted something different. It was so good, I think I'll ask for it every visit from now on.

The happy hour menu includes a Caesar salad (which my fiance ordered and enjoyed) but not a green salad. I'm sure that I could have ordered the usual side salad (which I know comes topped with cucumbers, carrots, sunflower seeds, black olives, and tomatoes) but I wanted something special. That, of course, meant ordering off of something other than the happy hour menu. The Caprese salad is not cheap, but when it was delivered to the table it was completely obvious as to why it comes with such a high price. There was the equivalent of an entire ball of mozzarella cheese, sliced pretty thickly, and layered with plenty of tomatoes. All of that was served on a bed of mixed baby greens and drizzled with a flavorful balsamic reduction.

For dinner, I ordered the plate of angel hair pasta. It is served with a simple Aglio olio sauce and came with a number of grape tomatoes. It was the perfect finish after a big salad and was even large enough in size to share with my fiance, who had ordered the Salscicci.

The Salcicci is a good option for meat eaters, especially those who also LOVE cheese. It is not served with pasta, though, so if you are in need of both (and there isn't someone across the table willing to share) it is a good idea to get that PLUS the angel hair. The Salcicci is a plate of sausage mixed with a tomato-based sauce, plenty of pepperoncini peppers, and covered with cheese. It is obvious that the whole thing goes into the oven as it is served in a hot dish and the cheese is melted perfectly over the whole plate.

We did not order a dessert to go with our meal...but that doesn't mean we didn't finish with a little taste of chocolate. At Caro Amico, every meal comes with an Ovation. I'm not sure if these are available in stores regularly, but they are SO good I wouldn't mind going on an official Ovation search. These minty chocolate sticks are SO much better than the usual mints served at the close of dinner at some Italian places (which is saying a lot, because I love those mints too).

I'll be back soon (not just because of the mints) but I've already decided that I MUST try the pizza next time. While we were sitting on the patio, I saw at least three or four pizzas delivered and they all looked amazingly delicious. We always have pasta and it's fantastic...but maybe the pizza is even better. I won't know until I try it. And I think I'll have to try it soon.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
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Value: Meets

Caro Amico Italian Cafe


  1. Recently enjoyed an early dinner/happy hour with my daughter, after weeks of helping her return to Oregon from Arizona...What a welcoming ambiance, excellent menu, efficient & pleasant service along with very affordable prices! This nourished our souls as well as our stomachs- thanks! We'll be back :D