If you love Portland, then you know that Harding Lee Smith’s The Rooms are an integral part of the food scene here. It’s undoubtedly impressive that they are all so incredibly successful, yet they are all completely different. With only an open kitchen concept and names to link them, each Room is completely unique.
Take The Corner Room. It’s warm, inviting and focused on just Italian food. But not just any Italian will do here. No, we’re talking homemade pastas, pan pizzas and portions that are probably bigger than your head here. It’s a first choice for business lunches, or dinner with friends. After all, they did win the Portland Phoenix’s award for Best Italian in Portland for 2014. They are definitely not messing around here.
So what makes this Room so appealing? For me, it’s the pasta. Hey, when you’ve been to Italy, you just never look at pasta the same way. I need it al dente, preferably made in the traditional way. I want pasta to stick to my bones, like the Corner Room’s spaghetti and meatballs, or some of their delectable ravioli. There I go again, making myself hungry by thinking about food. The joys of writing about it!
In an open kitchen concept, you definitely need to take things with a grain of salt, and the same is true at the Corner Room. The most common complaint you’ll hear: it was too loud, or too hot. I enjoy the pasta, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a place for an intimate dinner, unfortunately. But if you just take the food into account, then it’s a must try, for tourists and fellow foodies alike.
Let’s face it, sometimes Portland takes itself a little too seriously, and this isn’t a place that does that. Come in expecting pasta that will warm you, inside and out, and the best happy hour in town. As in, there’s free food and $3 glasses of house wine. Yes please! After a hard work week, is there any other way to unwind? The answer to that is a resounding no.