Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fino - Bistra, Bar & Pizzeria

8225 N Denver Ave
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM, daily

Traffic in Portland is getting worse and worse. Everyone knows it. And everyone has someone (or something) to blame. Whatever your solution to this problem might be, it's likely to take years to fix. In the meantime, it's probably best to have some close-to-the-freeway happy hour getaways on file. And Fino should be on your list. It's in the Kenton neighborhood, just minutes from I-5 between Lombard Avenue and Columbia Boulevard.

Happy Hour at Fino runs from four to six, daily. They've got a long list of food--including salads, small plates, pasta, AND pizza--with prices as low as 4 bucks. And there are discounts on drinks. Get a dollar off house cocktails, draft beer and cider, or enjoy a glass of wine for just $5. It's a good price and the portions are definitely large enough to make happy hour into a meal. Which is exactly what I did...

starting with the Beet Salad. If you've been reading, you know I love beets. And I love beets with arugula & goat cheese. This salad is exactly that, plus pepitas and a champagne vinaigrette. I loved every bite. I loved it so much that I powered through it, almost forgetting to offer a bite to my happy hour conspirator.

The starter plate of roasted cauliflower must be a seasonal veggie. It's not listed online. Instead they've got it as grilled broccolini. Either way, they both come with polenta and sofrito. The broccolini was served with soft polenta, the cauliflower comes with a fried wedge and some chickpeas. I enjoyed it, but could have easily eaten a second salad instead (because I love beets that much).

Across the table was a plate of Arancini. It's a common dish during happy hour (especially for any Italian restaurant) but these seemed so much better than most. Maybe it was the peas? Or the leeks? Or the abundance of mozzarella? Whatever it was, I suggest an order of these fried risotto balls for the table. They come four to a plate, so order accordingly.

There are three pizzas to choose from on the happy hour menu (but you can always just grab a slice of whatever's fresh that night). They've got plain cheese, pepperoni, or the vegan special. Neither of us are opposed to dairy (obviously), but the vegan special had so much more to offer than the others that we had to give it a go. It came topped with marinated tempeh, spinach, roasted red peppers, and a red pepper & cashew spread. (Yes, that's peppers on peppers...but still, it was yummy.) The pizzas range in price from 8 - 12 dollars, making them the most expensive items available during happy hour...but it's a pizza (a twelve-inch pizza) with plenty of slices to share and/or take home.

My meal ended with a mini baked pasta dish called the Rustico. It's a combination of all things I love about pasta, together in one. Served with marinara AND pesto (plus a pile of freshly grated cheese) is a block of pasta that was first coated with spinach and ricotta and mozzarella and breadcrumbs, then baked just enough to hold its shape (and still taste fresh and cheesy and delicious). There's a larger version on the regular dinner menu that I will probably order next time, if I'm there after six.

So much good food AND they've got excellent cocktails too. Pictured is the Fino signature cocktail, called the Limonata Fresco. It's basil-infused vodka with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, triple sec, simple syrup, and soda. Next to it is the Lucy, I'm Home. This one is SO much like summer in a glass it's almost ridiculous. It's a lime juice rickey made with coconut rum and a splash of soda. Picking a favorite between these two was nearly impossible. I could have easily gone back and forth--sipping one and then the other--all through dinner.

Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Exceeds
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Pizza Fino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato