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Food Network’s Eat St. has featured some of the most incredible food carts in Portland – the nation’s street food capital – so we took the opportunity to check in with a few of them while in Portland recently. Follow along with us all week, while we catch up with some fond old favorites, say farewell to others, and introduce a few new amazing eateries.

Artigiano, a word with many translations, in short means “a place where artisans and highly skilled craftsmen create.” And that’s just what Artigiano, a very unique food cart in Portland is. Artigiano is an al fresco Italian eatery owned by Chef Rachael Grossman and her boyfriend Tyler Johnston.

Artigiano was featured on Eat St. this season on August 14, and the episode had us so excited, we put it on the top of our list of carts to revisit. A lot has happened since their filming on Eat St. Now at a new location, the popular eatery still serves its “five star” dishes (on actual dishes with real utensils) in SE Portland. Yes, real plates and untensils!

Chef Rachel is a culinary mastermind with the training and experience to back it up. Having spent nearly her entire life in the kitchen, working alongside her grandmother, a seasoned French chef, Rachel was formally trained at Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute. Then, she worked as a chef in Italy before returning to the US.

Rachel and Tyler hit the Portland food scene where it counts – the taste buds – when they introduced their Artigiano dining experience to a city where there is no shortage of competition for food carts. Everything is local and everything is fresh; even their pasta is all handmade.

“The closer the farm is to the kitchen, the better the food tastes,” says Tyler, and I don’t think anyone disagrees. In Italy, Artigiano would be a “agriturismo” – a farm resort serving the most genuine Italian dishes in the countryside, surrounded by nature.

Having been operating for less than two years, this pair has drawn the attention of major media outlets since their filming on Eat St. last October.

USA Today listed Artigiano on its list of premier Portland restaurants. Natalie Forté, co-host of America’s Best Bites declared Artigiano’s gnocchi her favorite, and refused to eat anything else. Food Carts Portland, the city’s authority on all things street food, and The Oregonian both placed Artigiano on their Lists of Best Street Food. Most recently, Artigiano was featured in the July 2012 issue of SAVEUR magazine.

One look at Chef Rachel’s menu, and it’s easy to understand why Artigiano is fast-becoming Portland’s favorite Pasta Wagon. Just take a look at the three-course meal we indulged in at this food cart – no chandeliers, no cloth napkins, no ties and jackets… The food speaks for itself, as Rachel says.

I don’t think there is any other way to describe what it’s like to get a taste of truly fresh produce. I’d imagine it’s a lot like the first time Americans viewed color television.

Antipasti

We started with this outstanding Urban Farm Marinated Veggies – zucchini, eggplant, peppers, tomato. Mama Mia!

And, we couldn’t resist the Fettucine Alla Checca – Heirloom tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil, tossed with handmade fettuccine. Bellicimo!

Primi

For our first course, Rachel brought Handmade Fetuccine with Pesto Genovese (made with local basil, filberts, potatoes). If I had been dining alone, I would have licked the plate afterward. Mangia!

But the Yukon gold Gnocchi, tossed in sage-browned butter, with filberts and parmigiano reggiano… I think I spotted Natalie Forté lurking, hoping to steal a bite while I wasn’t looking. Simply outstanding. Gnocchi contains simple ingredients, but Rachel’s Gnocchi is an out-of-body experience. Delizioso!

Secondo

The meat course – my favorite – was a tender, juicy Braised Pork Shoulder with yukon gold potatoes and gypsy peppers.

Guests often bring along their own bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner at Artigiano, and how could Rachel and Tyler deny them? After all, good, hearty, genuine Italian fare is meant to be eaten slowly and with a good wine. So, when you’re in Portland, OR, pick up a bottle of your favorite red wine and head over to Artigiano.

Questa è stata una cena fantastica.
Complimenti alla cuoca… Alla salute!

 That was a fantastic supper! My compliments to the chef… Cheers!

Find Artigiano on Facebook and Twitter. Tomorrow, one door closes while a very large one opens for two Portland food cart operators and Eat St favorites!

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.