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Ava Gene's Restaurant Review: Ava Gene’s maintains a major buzz. One of three restaurants owned by Stumptown coffee founder Duane Sorenson and located on a strip with a growing concentration of quality restaurants, it is one of the few Portland eateries requiring an advance reservation. Its brand of Italian cooking is distinct: non-traditional, and certainly not of the tomato, cheese and garlic-heavy Italian-American variety. A better description for it would be "Portland-Italian." A glossary at the bottom of the dense menu, which is peppered with Italian words, provides helpful guidance. Vegetables play a huge role, starring in dishes such as pan-fried cauliflower and Brussels sprouts in a creamy tomato sauce, essentially an aïoli with a tantalizing hint of tuna. The kitchen also has an apt hand with fish, as demonstrated by the octopus salad with mint, squid ink pasta with crab, and a sous-vide barely-cooked steelhead filet served with a white bean and garbanzo salad and duck egg mayonnaise. Meat lovers need not despair: lamb skewers featuring several different cuts will satisfy any carnivorous cravings. For dessert, try the cannoli with light ricotta and house-made candied orange peel, or a bowl of pistachio gelato. The extensive wine list resembles a book and highlights wines from every region of Italy. There's an ample grappa selection, too, to linger over as you contemplate your dinner. Intimate tables and hanging incandescent lamps (reflected in a mirror over the open kitchen) enhance the feel of warmth and comfort.