GREATER PORTLAND—Rain aside, January and February were fairly miserable months for Portland's restaurant scene, because so few places opened. And that came on the heels of several year-end high-profile closings. But in March, Portland got its swagger back. The city saw an impressive 17 restaurants open in 31 days, including big door-flingings from the ambitious comfort food cooks at The Hairy Lobster, the "bitter circus" craft coffee-meets-craft cocktail dreamers at Americano, and the new space from Japanese ramen masters, Marukin, which opened its first stateside ramen shop in Stumptown last month.
DOWNTOWN—Late last week, a tipster told Willamette Week's Mathew Korfhage that Ken Norris had been tapped to lead the kitchen at Headwaters, Vitaly Paley's upcoming seafood restaurant coming soon to the old Heathman Hotel restaurant space. Turns out, that tipster's rumor is indeed true. Norris, who helmed the kitchen for a year at Riffle NW, says he's in the process of handing over the reigns at Clutch Sausagery, his downtown food cart, to make the time necessary to run the hotel restaurant kitchen. Keep your eyes peeled for a summer opening.
SLABTOWN—Northwest Portland's Slabtown and Alphabet districts have for decades been rich in pizza by the slice, but at present, it has no real sit-down pizza restaurant. All that will change come May when Brian Carrick, Brian Lamback (Tasty n Alder, Wildwood), and Breakside Brewery's Scott Lawrence open a still-unnamed pizza spot at 1505 NW 21st Avenue, on the same block as the recently resurrected Besaw's. Expect 6-10 signature pies, vegetable-centric small plates, craft cocktails, and eight taps for beer and wine.