Trattoria Fanny – Reincarnated Italian

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When Rossobianco closed, chef David Levi promised a new restaurant would open in its place at 3 Deering Ave. From that, Trattoria Fanny was born. Named after his grandmother and still focused on northern Italian cuisine, the promise was lower prices and more casual fare than the previous incarnation. We headed there during restaurant week for our first look at the place.

The interior of the restaurant was not noticeably different from the previous one which was good because it maintained it’s comfortable feel. We were there fairly early, so it wasn’t busy and we got our pick of the tables. We sat and were brought menus which included drinks, food, and their restaurant week options. My wife ordered a glass of Santa Guistina “Bonarda” and I stuck with water, then we got to making decisions about food.

Wine came out, the waiter offered a couple interesting specials, and then left so we could make our final selections. We both wanted something from the restaurant week menu which included an app, entree, and dessert for a set price. I went with Crostino Toscano – chicken, beef, and pork pate with crostini; Pollo al mattone – Roasted herbed chicken with potatoes; and Tiramisu. She ordered Polenta in padella con fonduta – griddled polenta with cheese sauce, the same chicken as I, and Bonet – chocolate, amaretto cake.

We got to try some lightly salted and herbed bread while we waited for our food and I enjoyed watching the open kitchen and seeing what was coming from it. The crostini and polenta apps came out before too long and we dug in immediately. My bread appeared to be more of what I had already eaten, though it was cut into a different shape. I smeared some pate on it and took a sizable bite. I enjoyed it immensely. I must admit, I didn’t know if the three different meats in it were going to represent a single pate or three varieties, but they worked together quite well as one.

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I worked on my salty, meaty app as my wife ate hers and then I took a piece of her polenta. It wasn’t so bad. The polenta was a little denser than what I was used to, which I really liked and the cheese sauce was excellent as many cheese sauces are. I finished my app and then helped with the other. Once we were done those, our plates were cleared and we relaxed in anticipation of the main course.

Others received their food around us and we saw some had ordered the same entree. When we got it, ours was only chicken – thigh and leg, but we were told that the potatoes would be out shortly. I waited before eating my bird and a few minutes later, the potatoes did indeed come out. I tried my chicken right then and found it to be tender, juicy, and overall pretty good, but it was a little run-of-the-mill – just a little too close to so many I’d had before. That didn’t make it bad, but it didn’t feel special.

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After a bite of chicken, I went straight for the potatoes. They were crispy enough and seasoned well, but they were only lukewarm which was odd, because they just had just come from the kitchen. It was especially strange since the chicken, which had been sitting for a few minutes in front of me, was still warmer. It definitely seemed like the meal could have come out all at once with a more appropriate temperature. Something went wrong somewhere.

Despite the issues with the entree, we both cleared our plates and hoped for a dessert that would add a little skip back into our step. Soon the sweets were ready to consume. Mine came in a glass with three ladyfingers and some custard on the bottom. My wife’s cake was a deep, dark chocolate log. I started by taking one of the fingers and trying to dip it as much as possible in the custard. I found the cookie a little hard which I usually don’t like, but that concern quickly passed because it went perfectly with the velvety smooth, light, pudding-like custard.

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My dessert was a winner, though I did have one concern which was that the fingers were difficult to dip in the custard due to the shape of the glass and my actual fingers being pretty large. I think a glass that opened up some at the top would have worked better. Next, I snagged a bite of hers. The cake was rich with chocolate and plenty of amaretto flavor. It was very cold or maybe frozen which wasn’t bad at all because it was good that way and, though I’m fairly sure it was made there, it didn’t really matter, because it was excellent.

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Both finales were delicious and I made a discovery that they were really good together too. I finished mine and then the last few bites of hers and we were ready to go. The meal came to $74 after tip which included the glass of wine. By the time we were done, the restaurant was very busy and it looked as though patrons might have to start waiting for a table.

Trattoria Fanny has been open for about month and there appear to be a few kinks to work out still. Overall, the meal was good, with the app and dessert the best parts. The entree wasn’t bad, but not particularly unique and the barely warm potatoes were something I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. Nonetheless, they certainly have the potential to make a positive impact on Portland food if they tighten up some of the loose ends. I hope they do. I’ll be back to check in the future.

Stay hungry.

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