Dec 18, 2013 at 4:00 am

Piattino: Food for the Uninspired


This is one of the worst, off-the-mark food reviews I've ever read. Totally wrong, on every level. I'm insulted that someone could read this and get such a wrong impression. Piattino aspires to be an affordable, friendly, and tasty neighborhood Italian place - and hits the mark perfectly. The owner has experience with over 10 restaurants in Paris and London, and it shows. The pork belly tortellini was wonderful, and the service #1. We'll be back!
I wonder how could you eat all those dishes in one visit. I echo the previous comment that your review is quite off the mark and I wonder if there are ulterior motives at play. I have been for several meals at Piattino and have found the plates beautifully presented, flavorful, and well balanced. I am excited to have such a warm and welcoming restaurant in my neighborhood and I will continue to frequent Piattino, as I encourage others to do the same.
@Doug Bruhnke HA HA HA! That is such an awesome picture of you! Did you get featured in an in-flight magazine? And did you take a picture of it with your flip phone? You are so funny! I love your sense of humor! It's NUMBER ONE!
This article sounds like it was written by the restaurant next door. Is Chris Onstad on the take? How long was the “travel-writing trip"? It sounds like he had about 13 meals at this restaurant. The pizzas are too small? Look at the pictures of them and judge for yourself. Maybe Chris should look at the portion sizes he is eating. Please try Piattino for yourself. I have been there many times and do not feel the same as this author.
This review is completely off the mark. I have been a customer since it opened. The food is fantastic and I have had all the dishes you reviewed. The hen was perfect in color and had a savory flavor. The pizzas are cooked perfectly and large enough I have yet to finish one. Sounds to me like you are a competitor or just someone who likes to rain on someone else's parade. I look forward to my lunch there each week and it is one of the few places frequent in the pearl.
I'm willing to bet that Mr. Onstad has "about 13 meals" at most, if not all, of the restaurants he's planning on reviewing. Sounds kind of like he wants to be, I don't know, thorough, or something.

Is he "on the take" or "a competitor"? Why, because he doesn't like certain things about this place (for reasons that he spells out quite clearly)? So that must mean he's got an ulterior motive, and not that he's simply telling the truth about how he feels? OK. Have you read any of his other reviews? Even with places that he otherwise gushes about, if there's a little something amiss, he has no qualms about ruthlessly noting it along with his praises.

It's a review, stupids. That is, it's an opinion, albeit an educated one. There's no "wrong" or "right". This is what he is paid to do. And this is why we're all here. Why else would we be reading? If we want some cursory, unprofessional, biased, everybody-gets-a-trophy puff piece, we can just go to Yelp or to the homepage of the restaurant in question.

Despite the fact that my own particular opinions about (all) things are more correct than anyone else's (you people probably [wrongly] assume the same about yours), I'm still interested in hearing Mr. Onstad's, and said interest would drop off to being non-existent if I thought for a second that he was doing anything other than calling things the way he sees them.

(Full disclosure: I'm pretty sure that i haven't eaten at more than one or two of the establishments he's reviewed during his tenure with the Mercury, regardless of what he's thought about them -- I primarily subsist on beer and tobacco -- I'm just here for the good, impassioned writing...and to get all pissy with you pissy-ass commenters.)
This is UNBELIEVABLE and an outrage! This restaurant has been my the go to in good times and the bad, terrible times (and unfortunately there have been a lot more of those lately) and I've never, ever had anything other than delicious, nutritious, and ambitious food here and I'm not being superstitious when I say your review was down right malicious and pernicious. For shame sir, I will not be "consuming" your food reviews any longer, but I will be consuming the food here as long as they continue to serve it. Good day.
As a professional food photographer, I am sometimes overly critical of presentation and 'freshness' of food served to me. Living just a few blocks from Piattino, I have visited more than a few times and have noticed/experienced the service and food. As mentioned above it seems you ordered an extraordinary amount, perhaps too much to be objective. I have never had a single problem with any meal but i know it would be replaced or credited if I had. I see absolutely nothing wrong with an owner who tries to remember customers names or even hovers to please. Next time, cut down on the drinks and limit the plates to 3 or 4 select dishes. Maybe you'll discover a different Piattino.
Anyone else notice that all of the outraged responses to this review are from commenters who signed up specifically to write these comments defending this one restaurant? (One of them later commented on another food article the following day.) More than one of these people accused the writer of this review of having hidden motives, but it seems like that charge could be just as easily made about these various pseudonyms who've rushed to sign up to angrily defend this restaurant.
i have no dog in this fight but i will say that Garlic Jim's is just plain horrible pizza. Awful!
Dear Waddles,

I can't speak for others that responded to this review with as you call it "outrage", but I responded as a work colleague of mine told me about the negative review. It is the one place I frequent regularly in the pearl. I don't read reviews as I don't put much stock into the opinion of someone I don't know when it comes to likes/dislikes. That said, other people do. I enjoy the establishment and would like to see it stick around, but reviews such as this one cast a mean-spirited negative light. People that make their decisions based off a food review may never give Piattino an opportunity. If I did not enjoy the quality of food, service and an owner who makes an attempt to get to know his customers, I would not respond to this review.
This is completely bogus! This is the best restaurant in Portland, or dare I say, the world? Chris Onstad killed three of the customers, and now he's trying to blame this bastion of cuisine! I am Enrico Letta and will say that no where in Italy does Italian cuisine as finely as Piattino. Did you even see the basil leaves on that pizza? That's how you know it's a great pizza! I've had seven of their cocktails while writing this review and they're all top-notch. Each one is better than the one before, even! It sounds like Oven and Shaker is ripping off Piattino, if anything!
Theory based on this comment thread: Onstad is heavily invested in a monocle repair shop located across the street from Piattino.
Love the food, love the analyses, love the commentary - only in Portland. You just don't see this type of passion for restaurants everywhere. Keep Portland Weird(ly Focused on Restaurants).
i like how none of the outraged responses recognize the positives of the review. They also don't specifically address the negatives.

Good to reply with counter-opinions, but other than a shout-out to the Hen and the "big" pizzas, the outraged provide very little substance and instead raise questions of the reviewer's integrity. That's fucking ridiculous.

A couple replies: I would bet that the reviewer eats several times at each place he reviews. As many of us do, he probably thinks that Portland has one of the best food scenes in the country. So far, nothing *anybody* has said above suggests Piattino should be part of the A-list. Forgettable, maybe, but to long-term "regulars" whose opinion is based on familiarity alone.
I find it very interesting that to review a restaurant you need to bring up another. Looks like you where paid off by the other restaurant. I have been trying the food at all the restaurants in the area and now i will pass on Oven and Shaker. I will also pass on reading your reviews of anything else. Are you a fourth grader? You sure are not "Smarter than a Fifth Grader"
Hey if it was only about food, go to Tasty N Sons, Screen Door or Pok Pok. Piattino offers good food and MORE - and the more is personal. If you like good food with a personal touch, Piattino is a good place to try and see for yourself. The original reviewer and several of the commenters don't appear to value that, and so this isn't the place for them. In fact referring to a friendly place as a tourist trap is curious, but probably this perspective goes to the food focus that has made Portland restaurants generally above average in the U.S. In the end, having a friendly owner is just fine, folks - and it's a positive, not a negative. Piattino is about the balance, and it works.
Well DB, I think that sounds like a cop-out. Tasty N Sons has fine service as does Pok Pok; I won't ever wait to find out if Screen Door does (at least mid-day).

I don't go to a restaurants to have an accordian played for me. Eating out should not be disneyland, or a CHEERS set, a winking or over-attentive owner or hostess, or whatever-- it's all the same. And no, I don't value that when I eat out.

The lack of substantive support in these comments for the *food*, which should speak for itself, is the icing on this review.
This reviewer has absolutely no credibility. This smacks more of 'marketing' than journalism. My wife and I are semi-freqent customers of Oven & Shaker and have enjoyed it; it's very polished, dialed in. Expensive. We were on our way there when the quaint, warm, neighbor-y vibe inside Piattino kind of made us both stop simultaneously. We backed up to look at the menu and it was far more reasonably priced than O&S. We decided to give it a try. The service was noticeably good, and friendly; the pizza would go on my top 5 thin-crust pizzas in Portland; and I actually remember thinking, "This arugula salad is kind of perfect." The owner Korosh (sp) stopped by once or twice to briefly make sure we were happy. Piattino has a more neighborhood-y vibe than the polished, design-forward O&S next door. We'd totally go back, honestly, for the whole overall experience. Our entire experience there was positive, actually really enjoyable, and the bill was reasonable. I don't want to bag on the reviewer, but it felt a bit like fiction, at least based on our experience. It's worth checking out.
when i have seen the restaurant reviewed by chris onstad only unprofessionalism comes to mind. ulterior motives & biasedly are obvious, in several occasions had pitzzas with few glass of wine certainly enjoyed both food & the decor or ambience.
It is spelled Pizza, marcoportland. Did you get a degree in journalism and start writing for a local newspaper? Oh right. You can't spell Pizza. So no.
Hey Spoolo - let me slow it down for you - this may be hard to understand if you're only familiar with Portland. In other cities, eating at a restaurant with good food AND an attentive owner or chef is valued by a lot of folks, even those who don't like accordians. The reviewer dismisses this completely - making fun of it, actually. No worries - I don't expect every person writing in to understand, but a reviewer really should.
Thanks Doug! You really "slowed it down" by saying the same thing for the fourth post.

I think we'll just agree to disagree with your conviction that a doting owner trumps shitty food, in a restuarant. I think it's ridiculous that you insinuate this would be the case in other cities-- Chicago? Seattle? LA maybe? Is that where you can serve disgusting gnocci with a smile, and get return customers? (seattle maybe so, unfortunately) This all makes it hard for me to understand the origin of your sideways comment about my being "only" familiar with portland-- as if you grasp food scenes around the world, and Piattino's a gem...

I can tell it's been hard for you to defend Piattino's food, which is what the review is primarily about. Maybe you can just move on, accepting or even appreciating a reviewer's honesty and different focus than your own.

So to keep things **slow**, as you like them: let's just agree we both like to eat out, but one of us likes the actual food, and the other likes... whatever-the-fuck you actually like about restaurants.
The author clearly states in the review that the meals eaten at Piattino occurred on several occasions. For the record, the owner is an ass hole. I've heard of him berating people outside his restaurant and know for a fact that the food is complete shit because he can't keep anyone working for him for very long. Why is that? Because he treats people like shit. First he copied oven and shaker's patio tables THEN completely revamped his establishment to copy oven and shaker. It's just pathetic and his pathetic mess is in no way Oven and Shaker's fault. That restaurant will fail.
Shiraz failed. Oven and Shaker is hugely successful and popular so why not copy it? Anyone suggesting that Piattino isn't a thinly veiled rip off of the establishment next door is kidding themselves. Maybe the owner is really passionate about italian food and craft cocktails, maybe he's just trying to salvage the old Shiraz space. Either way, if you are going to blatantly copy your neighboring restaurant, which happens to be the brain child of a James Beard recognized chef and one of the most successful american figures in the craft cocktail scene, you better do it right and you better expect harsh criticism and constant comparison. Oven and Shaker isn't a gimmick. Its really good, well thought out and simple italian food paired with world class craft cocktails. While the owner of Piattino is charming, its really hard to believe he's passionate about Italian food when 4 months ago he was pushing me Mediterranean food. Only time will tell if he is able to make that gem of a corner location profitable...but in a city with so much good and inspired food to choose from on any given night, its next to impossible to fake it and make it.
This is reading a lot like someone hired fiverr?
Oh no Chris! You have angered the yuppie pukes in the Pearl with your review! Get ready for a tremendously passive aggressive backlash! I am sure you are terrified your credibility is sunk ( ok not really, I would imagine you laughed your ass off after reading the comments). Good news for you Mercury, looks like there are a lot of future food critics out there! Or transplant yuppie d bags with yelp accounts. Tough to tell
I love the idea that Chris is on the "take" from O&S. Because.... Piattino is some sort of threat? It's silly to the point of absurd. Chris may have an unusual background for a restaurant reviewer, but his delight in well-loved, well-prepared food is no joke - whether he's reviewing a unnoticed cafe off Alberta or a bastion of fine dining 20 years into it's run. And he always discloses when he has a special relationship to an establishment, or has been given particular access. The man has dealt with comic-con people, so food nerds ain't no big.

I've had the misfortune to taste some of the food the owner of Piattino - and while I think he loves to be a restauranteur, he has no IDEA what good, modern Italian food is. Quality control has to come from the top - and unfortunately the owner, while an incredibly sweet man, has no taste. I'm happy for the owner that he has so many loyal (if misguided and weirdly prone to conspiracy theory) fans, but his food is unfortunate and it's only fair that Chris use his power to warn us.
Ummm... did you all see the headline? If you like the restaurant, you like it. Good for you! Chris was not impressed, and described very clearly why. That's his job! Who cares if your experience is different? He's not trying to argue with you, his opinion does not threaten the validity of yours, and you're all more than welcome to keep going there every goddamn day and enjoying the "neighbory ambience." If anything, this review will just make them step up their game, and I don't see how that can be a bad thing. Get over it.
When Bobos go to war, a point is all that you can score (score no more, score no more)...
Hilarious comments! Keep Portland weird, for better and for worse.
I think your new thing should be working medieval casements into every review, Chris.
totinos is god
I love this thread. As an ex-cook with many kitchen years on my resume and a regular diner both, this thread is fantastic.
This review came up in the kitchen today, and the consensus was that this was flat-out spiteful, at best. Completely cruel. I was going to give them more of the benefit of the doubt...and then I started looking at other reviews. It would seem the owner is the kind of person who may rub some people the wrong way. I suspect the reviewer is one of those people.

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