Gabagool – Italian Street Food

Lizzy Caston

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Location: 836 N Beech Street
Hours: Tues – Sun 11am – 3pm and 6pm – 9pm

The Story: Let’s face it, some food trucks are a bit more elevated, a bit more refined and just have a little more some-some than others. Sure, who doesn’t love a good old down and dirty street meat sandwich from a generic cart at 2am after a night of drinking, or a $4 brick sized burrito from a humble traditional taco truck now and again? Yet, there’s some street food in Portland that is as good, if not better, than the stuff coming out of the city’s finest restaurant kitchens. Gabagool is one such endeavor. Serving Italian dishes, Gabagool hits it with their Piadine flatbread sandwiches, homemade pasta dishes, and other delights. Almost everything from the flatbread, to the pastas, to the sausages, to the cheeses, and even the pickles are made from scratch by Gabagool, using as many locally sourced, naturally raised and farmed ingredients as possible. That’s some serious passion and commitment.

Let’s get the name out of the way though, Gabagool! You may have heard this term on the Sopranos. It’s slang, often heard in the Italian American community on the East Coast of the good old U.S. of A. Officially it refers to the slightly spicy traditional Italian cured sausage known as Capicola as in, “Hey Tony, let’s go grab a Gabagool and pepper sandwich after we send this goombah off to go swimming with the sharks.” Unofficially, there’s another meaning but I’ll let you folks Google that…warning it’s not appropriate to say in polite company and it’s NSFW, but it is kinda spicy! Capiche?

Joking aside, Owner and Chef Ryan Sherman is a total pro.  An East Coast transplant from the Philadelphia area, but a long term Portlander. Ryan has cooked in and been head chef at some of our city’s finer restaurants, and he knows his craft and business well. Gabagool also gets the East Coast Italian food and Italian food culture vibe. You know, the corner stores, little casual Italian delis and trattorias that are part community center –  part take out -part come as you are restaurant with just a table or two. It’s the kind of place that Portland seems to be lacking. He gets it!  You almost expect to see a group of Italian guys sitting around playing Pinochle as they sip on espresso and chow down on antipasti and cannoli. Gabagool has created a nice little welcoming space on their gravel lot, and is a nice addition to the N. Mississippi community, with plenty of picnic table seating and a soon to be covered area (along with other amenities).

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Piadine sandwiches are a specialty here. A traditional flatbread hailing from Northern Italy, Piadine can best be described as a more flaky version of a big flour tortilla. Gabagool makes them fresh from scratch. Traditionally made with lard (to add the flakiness), they can also be ordered made with olive oil for vegetarian and vegan diners.  Stuffed with all manner of incredibly high-quality and fresh ingredients such as capicola, salami, sausage with fennel, cured or fresh peppers, fresh mozzarella or ricotta, caponata – and more. These are light, fresh and highly addictive sandwiches.

Pastas are all made in house along with the sauces that go on top of them. Ricotta stuffed tortellini, traditional papardelle with sausage ragu, and specials such as fettucine bolognese. Really, you just can’t go wrong here.

Other items to round out Gabagool’s offerings include a hearty mixed tritata salad or some crunchy, spicy homemade giardiniera pickles. This ain’t the limp cheap vinegar stuff from the jars and deli cases in the supermarket, people. There’s often specials too – for example a perfect summer honeydew melon wrapped in paper thin Prosciutto di Parma one week, and a hearty potato gnocchi with fresh tomatoes and arugula pesto the next.

Supporting local farms and natural sustainable foods is a big driver at Gabagool, and they source their produce, eggs, and meat from folks such as Latitude 45, Dehart Farms, Sweet Briar Farms, Uncle Paul’s Produce, Wild Side Mushrooms, and Olympic Provisions. Gabagool is food you can feel good about.

There’s an old Italian proverb that states, La cucina piccola fal la casa grande. Translation: A small kitchen makes the house grand. Gabagool’s little blue truck proves that great food can come in small guises. Gabagool, Italian street food made with care.

 

Sample Menu:

Piadine (Flatbread Sandwiches – made with lard or olive oil on request. Vegan and gluten free options are available on request)

  • Gabagool – capicola, salami, romaine lettuce, roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, hot cured peppers – $7
  • Salsicce – pork fennel sausage, sauteed bell peppers, pomodoro, granna padano – $7
  • Caponata – eggplant caponata, seasonal mushrooms, fresh ricotta

Egg Pasta Dishes

  • Pappardelle – pork fennel sausage ragu, grana padano
  • Tagliatelle – pomodoro, basil, grana padano OR extra virgin olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, grana padano – $6
  • Tortellini – stuffed with fresh ricotta, seasonal mushrooms and thyme, in pomodoro – $8

Insalata

  • Tritata -romaine lettuce, salami, prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, basil, roasted tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, chick peas, hot peppers, balsamico (can be made vegan) – $6
  • Giardiniera – side of spicy pickled vegetables – $3

Website: Coming Soon

Phone: 503-753-5859

Facebook: GabagoolFood
Twitter: @Gabagoolfood

Native Bowl

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Native Bowl

Native Bowl

Location: N Mississippi at Skidmore in Mississippi Marketplace
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-3pm

The Story: 

Changing of the guard happens every so often at the carts. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m happy to report that Native Bowl has new owners and will continue to serve the quality and flavorful bowls we have come to expect. Mmm, BBQ Soy curls for the win! Suzzette and Ted Easton who live in the neighborhood and own and operate the Akemi Salon on Williams took over the cart in November of 2013 after working with Jay and Julie to master the menu. The bowls are the same, but expect some new items to hit the menu in the future. Welcome to the food cart world Suzzette and Ted!

Our original article about Native Bowl:

When we were over at Mississippi Marketplace showing an out of town guest the carts, we decided to grab one of the dishes from Native Bowl, another vegan cart in the pod. The dish had what they called “crack gravy” a gravy so good, you’ll get addicted to it like crack. I only got a couple of bites, but it was enough for me to return the following day and meet the owners and try one of their bowls.

Native Bowl is another brand new cart in the pod. The owners Jay and Julie have been open for about 4 weeks and are fully vegan. Jay relayed a story that one day their 8yr old son came home and asked if they could try vegan and it went from there. The Native Bowl specializes in what we would traditionally call rice bowls. A layer of rice (in this case, jasmine rice), then some sauce, some protein like marinated tofu topped with veggies. Pretty simple concept, but if you prepare each item very well, you come out with an amazing dish.

Couch Bowl from Native Bowl

Couch Bowl from Native Bowl

I chose the Couch Bowl (pronounced cooch) per the owner’s recommendation. I’ll be the first to take someone’s advice, keeps me from hand wringing over all the choices. While they prepared it, I walked over to PROST!, the German pub in the lot, grabbed a table and ordered a beer. Before I knew it, Julie was actually bringing me my bowl. I don’t think this is standard, but what a great gesture. Upon opening the bowl, I was overwhelmed with the bright colors and savory aromas. The top of the bowl was a mixture of freshly chopped green onions topped with a savory sauce and sesame seeds. Just below the onions were bean sprouts, some mixed greens, chopped carrots and then marinated tofu and the rice. I’m the eater who prefers to mix everything together so you don’t end up with one single item at the end of the meal, yet this bowl was a mix of amazing flavors from top to bottom. The sauce had some spice to it also, something I didn’t expect but was glad was there.

The Native Bowl is another great addition to the Mississippi Marketplace pod. Jay and Julie are kind and welcoming to everyone who walks by. If you’re up in North Portland and need a great dish, check out Native Bowl and tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Bowls are all vegan, $6.50
  • Mississippi Bowl – peppercorn ranch sauce, BBQ soy curls, house coleslaw, scallions, and jasmine rice
  • Couch Bowl – seasoned tofu, sesame bean sprouts, Kochujang sweet and sour sauce, jasmine rice, lettuce, carrots, scallions and sesame seeds
  • Alberta Bowl – seasoned tofu, house-made fire-breathing dragon sauce, jasmine rice, shredded cabbage, carrots and scallions

Website: TheNativeBowl.com
Twitter: NativeBowl
Facebook: Native Bowl

Wolf & Bear’s

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Wolf & Bears

Location: N Mississippi south of Shaver by LAND. moved 10/2011 for winter

Description:

Field Trip. That’s what I call it. See, I work downtown, so it is pretty easy to visit most of the carts in a given lunch hour. When you expand to the east side though, then we call it a field trip. We line up, hold hands, count off and get on the bus; two by two by two…. Seriously though, I had my time concerns for lunch, yet Wolf & Bear’s made it worth the trip.

Wolf & Bear’s is a new cart run by a young couple with both ties to Israel and it comes out in their food. I hadn’t heard of it until a friend of mine tweeted that she took her daughter there and the owners were so excited that she pronounced the name of one of their sandwiches properly. The Sabich (pronounced s-ah-biqh) is a traditional Jewish/Middle Eastern breakfast sandwich which I would eat as an every day meal. With a fresh large pita, they put together hummus, grilled eggplant, hard boiled egg, onions, cucumber, pickles, parsley and salad greens topped with house tahini sauce and amba (mango pickle.)

Sabich from Wolf & Bears

Sabich from Wolf & Bear’s

When I saw the reference to breakfast and the inclusion of eggs, I wasn’t sure what they were concocting, but boy was that a great pita. The pita itself was chewy and fresh, the hummus garlicky, but not overwhelming. The grilled eggplant mixed with the fresh onions, cucumbers and greens gave the entire sandwich such a bright fresh flavor. I have been enjoying fresh veggies all summer from the garden and the veggies they used had that same freshly picked flavor. I devoured that sandwich at the provided picnic table while sitting under a large umbrella with my house made lemonade.  Not a bad way to escape from the office for an hour and relax.

When you read through Wolf & Bear’s menu, you see they have taken their time to put together some signature dishes. Each dish is vegetarian and can be made vegan at request. They pride themselves by making the hummus and labneh (creamy cheese made from uncultured yogurt) from scratch. All sauces and dressings are vegan For those concerned about gluten, they use sprouted garbanzos in the falafel so those are gluten free. What more could you ask for.

You need a break today from the downtown hustle. I suggest a field trip. Put on your backpack, grab your permission slip and head on over to Wolf & Bear’s – and tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Roadside snack – homemade labneh or hummus on pita topped with salad greens and drizzles of olive oil – $5
  • Sabich – (Jewish traditional breakfast) – pita filled with hummus, grilled eggplant, hard boiled egg, diced onions and cucumbers, pickes, parsley and salad greens topped with tahini and amba – $7
  • Falafel – pita filled with hummus, caramelized onion, roasted red peppers, grilled eggplant, fresh falafel and salad greens topped with tahini – $6.50
  • Out to Lunch – pita layered with labneh, gorgonzola crumbles, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, falafel, salad greens and ground pepper – drizzled with olive oil – $7
  • Salads – $5.50
  • Housemade lemondade with mint – $2
  • Kombucha – $3
  • Cold brewed iced coffee – $2

Hours: Wednesday/Thursday 12pm – 8pm; Friday/Saturday 12pm-10pm
Phone/Contact: unknown
Website: Wolf & Bear’s on MySpace
Twitter: WolfandBears

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Flavour Spot

Lizzy Caston

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Originally posted October, 2007. Updated June, 2013

Locations: A lot on North Lombard and N. Brandon & another location on the corner of N. Mississippi and N. Fremont

Description: Flavourspot was one of the early Food Cart Portland posts way back in ’07. Much has changed in Portland’s and the U.S. street food landscape since then. The New York Times came a knockin’ on our door followed by a constant stream of local, national and international media. Food Trucks became the “hot trend” in dining and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Gourmet carts begin to emerge en masse, and cities all over have gone cart crazy.  Portland’s food cart scene in particular exploded, from about 300 carts to over 700 these days and have become a well loved local and visitor destination.

Flavourspot, was a game changer cart in Portland and remains a strong and steady presence in Portland’s ever evolving food cart scene. With a spot on popular N. Mississippi St. and another in the heart of N. Portland on Lombard, these two little carts continue to charm with fun, price friendly menus, and satisfying offerings.

As far as we know, this is Portland’s home of the “Dutch Taco – America’s Waffle Sandwich” (Flavourspot’s genius description, not ours). Imagine large, round, “old school” waffles made fresh to order (the thin kind with the small indents, not Belgian waffles), stuffed, spread and folded into a type of giant burrito-sandwich hybrid with all kinds of inspired fillings both sweet or savory. Or both.

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Over the years Flavourspot has managed to create some well craved classics such as a sausage with maple spread, or my perennial favorite – the ham with smoked Gouda cheese – a smokey, oozey, mess of goodness with just a hint of sweetness. Newer additions include a soul food boneless fried chicken and waffles (with or without syrup as you like).  Sweet waffle choices include the basic Butter and Powder Sugar or the Peanut Butter & Jelly. Or try one of the more complex and decadent things like the sugar coma inducing Black Forest with Nutella and Blackberry Jam, or the S’More that comes with sweet as sin Mallow Fluff and more of that excellent Nutella.

In the past couple of years, Flavourspot has evolved from just waffles. Menus vary slightly between locations, but the N. Mississippi one has also added soft serve ice creams, deep fried hot dogs, and chili dogs.

Beverages include coffee made by local roaster Spella Caffe, Italian sodas, good old fashioned egg creams, and a limeade drink. They even serve my childhood favorite Ovaltine, either solo in milk or mixed in their signature Maltball Mocha.

The carts are nicely decorated, but simple. While the N. Mississippi has plenty of covered seating on a private, fenced-in lot perfect for eating in place, the Lombard location is much more pared down, so plan on curb or car dining, or take your waffle home to eat it (if you can wait that long – I can’t).

In a world of constant flux, Flavourspot continues to be one of those special carts in Portland, just doing their thing, and doing it well, since 2006. Keep on cartin’, Flavourspot.  

Sample Menu: Please refer to the Flavour Spot Website for all their menus.

Hours: Generally early morning – mid afternoon Mon-Sun. Check website for details.

Phone: 503-289-YUMM

Website: www.flavourspot.com

Facebook: Flavourspot

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