Dining outdoors at Riverside.
Dining outdoors at Riverside.
written by Kerry Newberry
photography by Amy Robb

When chef Mark DeResta talks about his restaurant kitchen, he describes it as a culinary incubator. For more than fifteen years, he’s leveraged his all-day dining program to bolster surrounding micro-farmers, makers and producers. “We want to help share their story,” said DeResta. Locals in the know beeline to this under-the-radar Hood River spot: Here you can catch sunsets from an outdoor terrace elegantly tiered above the Columbia River, not to mention spy ospreys swooping for fish.

But what really sets this hotel restaurant apart is how it’s so deeply rooted to the surrounding community. On a recent morning, DeResta swapped tales with Rebbecah Winnier, a third-generation tribal fisher from the Yakama Nation, as she delivered glistening Chinook salmon she caught hours before from the Columbia River.

Soon after, he mingled with other regulars swinging by with everything from organically grown mushrooms to hundreds of pounds of salad greens, squash and zucchini, all harvested within a short radius from the chef’s kitchen. Every dish at Riverside stars local flavors from a breakfast omelet stuffed with Cascadia Creamery’s rosemary garlic fondue to the green tomatoes gleaned late season from Stepping Stone Farm that get roasted and turned into scratch salsa for the popular chilaquiles.

Chef Mark DeResta showcases local bounty, including pasta alla gricia.
Chef Mark DeResta showcases local bounty, including pasta alla gricia.

“We use guanciale from Stamboom for our pasta alla gricia,” said DeResta, delighted to promote a young couple near Parkdale running a small-scale pig farm. Even the wine list leans local with a focused selection of glass pours from the Columbia River Gorge AVA ranging from the boutique Savage Grace (the vineyards are visible across the river) to Analemma Wines, a biodynamic grower-producer in Mosier.

For DeResta, Riverside’s menu provides a sense of place. “No matter how big our town gets, the threads of our community remain small and strong.”

1108 E. MARINA DR.

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