Fine Dine Grouper

What matters most to you when you’re dining out at a restaurant? Do you make your decisions based on cuisine, location or price?

What about noise level? In today’s busy environment, many restaurants have given into the notion that their eateries must be full of noise and confusion. But this is, in fact, driving away many older adults who want to enjoy lively conversation without having to shout over the thick layer of noise, background music and symphony of voices.

Some restaurants will turn down the music to accommodate their customers. You can ask to be moved to a quieter section of the restaurant (if there is one) or, if necessary, wear ear protection. Another solution is to frequent a restaurant as soon as it opens to avoid large, loud crowds. Or, eat at the end of a lunch period rather than during the peak.

If you’re wondering about safe noise levels, consider these measurements. Most noise levels are given in dBA, which are decibels adjusted to reflect the ear’s response to different frequencies of sound.

“Quiet,” safe for hearing health and conversation, is 70 dBA. “Moderate,” safe for hearing health yet still conducive to conversation, is 71-75 dBA. “Louder” may be safe for hearing health, but 81 dBA and above are unsafe.

Here are 10 restaurants we recommend for those who enjoy the pleasure of intimate dining in quiet venues:

Gracie’s, 729 SW 15th Ave., Portland

This is a swanky restaurant with a classic Hollywood feel serving American fare in the Hotel Deluxe.

Like other hotels in Portland, their noise level is more hushed. So many new hotels have opened in the Pearl and downtown of late that it could be an adventure to try a different one each week or month.

Fratelli Ponzi Fine Food and Wine Bar, 100 SW 7th St., Dundee

On trips to the coast, I always stop at this restaurant because of the quality of food, service, indoor fireplace and ample outdoor dining. Located in the heart of wine country it received a certificate of excellence from 2015-19. If fish stew is on the menu, order it. If you like eating and shopping, Joy’s boutique is located nearby.

Seasons and Regions Seafood Grill, 6660 SW Capitol Hwy., Portland

This is a restaurant that has lasted through the decades because of quality food and service. It’s quaint inside with heated patio outside. They serve seafood and other dishes featuring produce from the owner’s garden. One of the best happy hours and friendly bartenders. They have a take-out window as well.

Paley’s Place Bistro & Bar, 1204 NW 21st Ave., Portland

Chef Paley is the recipient of many awards including the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef of the Northwest and Chef of the Year by Portland Monthly. He has been featured in top national food magazines.

Riccardo’s Ristorante. 16035 Boones Ferry Road, Lake Oswego

Riccardo has been bringing hundreds of labels of great wines from Italy for over 38 years —thousands of bottles to meet any budget. For simplicity, their spaghetti and meat sauce beats most other Italian eateries. The stylish patio is like stepping into Tuscany. Many signature dishes, knowledgeable staff.

Papa Haydn, 5829 SE Milwaukie Ave., Portland

Their patio gives off a beautiful scent, and indoor tables are quiet, too. Their happy hour is exceptional. The large case with European-style desserts is mouth-watering so leave room for a goodie. You won’t find any disappointing American entrees. Whenever possible, they source produce from organic growers.

Castagna, 1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland

This restaurant is touted for its adventurous kitchen and fine dining. Many food writers have said it delivers three-star Michelin meals and have hailed its menu. If prices seem upscale for some, think of sharing to keep on budget.

Gino’s Restaurant and Bar, 8051 SE 13th, Sellwood

When you walk through the copper metal door you find yourself in a modern trattoria where carefully prepared, seasonal options are featured in this Italian establishment with extensive wine list and sleek room. Note their century-old oak wine bar and a popular option of small plates from 2 to 4 p.m., and during the last hour of service.

Woodstock Wine & Deli, 4030 SE Woodstock Blvd., Portland

People comment about their “amazing” deli, with sandwiches and cheese platter, their pastrami and wine list.

Portofino Café Italiano, 8075 SE 13th, Sellwood

This relaxed café is a long-standing cozy Italian trattoria featuring everyday Italian eats. Popular neighborhood hangout.

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