Genoa Is Back
By Wine Press Staff
Genoa, Portland’s original “farm-to-table” restaurant, recently reopened under the new culinary direction of David Anderson, executive chef and general manager, and Trish Eiting, owner.
Genoa closed last November after a 38-year run as a pioneer in the “locavore” movement that today can be traced back to 1971 when Genoa first opened. That same year Chez Panisse opened in Berkeley, Calif. with a commitment to growing and sourcing local ingredients. Sharing this similar passion, the two West Coast restaurants became known as leaders for their support of local farmers and ranchers.
While Genoa’s many diners mourned its closing, Eiting recognized the restaurant as one of the city’s culinary landmarks and took action. She gathered a design team and hired Anderson to head the kitchen.
With a degree from Western Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Anderson added to his culinary resumé by working at a number of notable Portland restaurants, including Bluehour (where he did a six-week internship), Café Azul, Southpark, Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen and, most recently, Vindalho.
Remaining close to the original concept of a prix fixe menu based on classical Northern Italian cooking, Anderson fuses a modern approach to the menu with the time-honored traditions that made Genoa a respected name in the near and distant food community.
Anderson continues the tradition of connecting with local farmers, growers and ranchers to source local and seasonal ingredients. His culinary team also handcrafts as many ingredients as possible—mozzarella, ricotta cheese, pickled vegetables, pancetta, cured meats, pasta and more.
Genoa’s extensive wine list features local wine selections, as well as Italian and European classics to pair with the regional Italian menu. Along with area wines, Genoa embraces the local beverage movement in Portland with selections of coffee from World Cup Coffee, as well as teas, microbrews and spirits from local producers. Genoa also features a house water-purification system that benefits the environment and eliminates waste.
For the design, the team took a unique collaborative approach and hired a trio of local design and architecture firms to give the traditional restaurant an updated and modern expression.
“The old Genoa will be visible both on my menu and inside the dining room,” Anderson said. “We consulted with former owner Kerry DeBuse to include many of Genoa’s well-loved recipes. We also kept the footprint of the existing dining room but updated the design with sustainable fabrics, handcrafted glass chandeliers and handmade ceramic dishes. We went more modern, but we didn’t lose the Old World charm of the former space,” Anderson said. “We also considered our environmental footprint in all our choices and chose earth-friendly materials when possible.”
DeBuse remembers when the first organic greens were added to the menu in 1983 when no other Portland restaurant was partnering with local farmers.
“Genoa also imported the first prosciutto in the city and raised the bar for quality service and special occasion dining,” DeBuse noted. “Our opening menu in 1971 was seven courses for $7, which is hard to believe today.”
Thirty-eight years later, Genoa strives to offer the same commitment to fresh, seasonal ingredients cooked in the classic traditions found throughout Italy. Genoa’s five-course menu is available for $55 and includes antipasto, pasta, salad, main entrée and a dessert or cheese board.
Accanto, the new enoteca and café next door to Genoa, inhabits the formerly vacant space in the historic Genoa Building. Sitting virtually empty for the past three decades, the space has received a complete renovation by a trio of Portland design and architecture firms eager to resurrect this quiet neighborhood corner.
Accanto—open daily and also led by Anderson—offers a friendly place to share an espresso, a glass of wine and handmade dishes. There is a cozy space in the back, stocked with culinary resources—from magazines and cookbooks to news about local food and farm organizations. Interested foodies can even browse through the Genoa recipe archives from the past 30 years.
Genoa is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to close, and is located at 2832 S.E. Belmont Street, Portland. For more information about Genoa (or Accanto), call 503-238-1464 or visit www.genoarestaurant.com .