Grassa: Less may be more, but leaves lots to be desired


We caught our friends – Sean Khanna (left), Noah Gilbertson (center), Sam Roach (right) – after finishing their meals in an awkward fish-eye photo. Photo taken by Claire Roach.

Among the busy establishments of Northwest Portland, lies a humble, grounded pasta place – Grassa PDX – which we stumbled upon with the intention of celebrating Hannah’s 18th birthday. 

Grassa makes homemade pasta inhouse and was founded in 2016. The restaurant briefs a short menu, only over a dozen dishes, among other seasonal offerings. 

At the time of publication, we could only dine outside on wooden benches and a covered deck. Past the “Do not enter” sign though, we could see the large tables, the black stools – Grassa is simple by design, in the menu, in the furniture and in the all-black exterior. We picked Grassa for its moderate price point, a semi-casual, semi-formal dinner that could be a backdrop for good conversation and great memories. It, indeed, fulfilled its promise. 


Pasta Aglio Olio and lemonade: 

Hannah: For a homemade pasta place, I was rather unimpressed. The breadcrumbs and fresh parmesan were not enough to compensate for the dry and bready consistency of the noodles. The lemonade was certainly abrasive, but after the ice cubes melted a bit I found the watered-down version to be satisfactory. 


Pasta Pomodoro: 

Emily: Perhaps one of the best dishes on their menu. Trying the orders of our friends, Pasta Pomodoro stuck out as the most flavorful and engaging. Though it holds a barely-there tomato sauce and nuanced seasonings, this sentence is true of all Grassa dishes. Thus, Pasta Pomodoro is able to take full advantage of the restaurant’s formula – less is more. 


Cacio e Pepe: 

Mahathi: My hopes were high for this Cacio. Unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed as I hoped that the simplicity of the dish would allow for the chefs at Grassa to blow my mind, but they didn’t. Though lacking in flavor, it was a satisfactory meal overall. For me, the best part of the meal was not the pasta, but rather the Aranciata San Pellegrino that cost me a whopping four bucks.


Fried Brussel Sprouts:

Emily and Mahathi: A must-get, and you can order to share. The brussel sprouts are packed with flavor and complete with a little kick from the mustard seed sauce. An obvious serving companion to the subtle pasta and garlic bread.