In the heart of Beaverton, Decarli Restaurant regularly serves up the unexpected.
With a menu that changes every day, co-owners Jana and Paul Decarli said their goal is for hungry customers to enjoy an authentic northern Italian style meal, whether they need a quick bite or are celebrating a special occassion.
"We are a mom-and-pop shop, even though we are bigger than one seems to be," Jana Decarli said. "He and I started it, we run it, we have a chef de cuisine who runs the day-to-day stuff, so we focus on family. We love to attend our kids' games, it wasn't like we wanted to be here until we die."
Jana and Paul Decarli are no strangers to the Oregon food landscape.
Paul DeCarli's spent years in Portland restaurants, with a resumé that includes Executive Chef at the now-closed Tuscany Grill in the Alphabet District, while Jana Decarli worked in San Francisco and Portland.
Paul Decarli graduated from Sunset High School and said he wanted to settle his restaurant in Washington County.
"Sometimes on a Friday night, you'll see people (recognize one another), they say hi to each other," Jana Decarli said. "We all live out here and when I worked downtown in the Pearl District, people travel all over to eat there. Here, you have a sense of community."
When they envisioned starting a restaurant of their own, the two wanted to bring Paul Decarli's heritage of Swiss-Italian-style food.
"I think people expect spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, all that," Paul Decarli said. "But we are not that. We aren't American Italian, I think we are more traditional. We use the ingredients we are given in the Northwest and take that approach, which is a very Italian approach where wherever they are in their region, their ingredients comes from that. You can almost call us the Pacific Northwest's take on Italian."
Walking in on a week day, the staff is prepping the tables with their own glass pitchers, sporting a type of sophistication that doesn't need a white table cloth to look elegant.
"Our food is not fussy," Jana Decarli said. "It isn't elevated smears and tweezer food. I think that is the appeal, it reminds you of home and what your mom would cook."
Decarli Restaurant may have dishes on rotation, but the Decarlis say their restaurant is known for its polenta fries and short ribs.
"When we started serving the polenta fries, they were really unique and there wasn't a whole lot out there like them in Portland," Paul Decarli said.
Served with gorgonzola butter, Jana Decarli describes polenta fries as "a gourmet Cheeto."
"Kids love them, too," she said, with a grin.
Adults can expect a long wine list, sporting labels from around the Northwest, like Ponzi Vineyards in Sherwood, and across Italy.
Reservations are encouraged. Call 503-641-3223 or book with OpenTable.
By Janae Easlon
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune971-762-1166
Follow Janae at @Janae_Easlon
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