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Ava Gene's Restaurant Review: One of three eateries owned by Stumptown coffee founder Duane Sorenson, Ava Gene’s has maintained its foodie reputation and remains one of the few Portland establishments requiring an advance reservation. Intimate tables and hanging incandescent lamps reflected in a mirror over the open kitchen enhance the feel of warmth and comfort. Its brand of Italian cooking is distinct, non-traditional, and certainly not the tomato, cheese and garlic-heavy Italian-American variety. A more apt description would be "Portland-Italian." Vegetables play a huge role, starring in the 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 creative dishes such as 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, order 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 recollect your dinner.