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Homegrown restaurateur serves fresh, local fare

Multnomah native Pasha Nazari and his partner Marta Majewska are experiencing success with their natural and organic restaurant in the Village

A stroll through Multnomah Village on a Saturday or Sunday morning often turns up queues of eager eaters. They wag out the doors of breakfast establishments like tails on a happy dog. It seems, from this flood of foodies, that there is room for at least one more eatery in the Village.

Stepping up to the prandial plate is the Down to Earth Café - not just another breakfast, lunch and dinner option, but one that offers a menu comprised wholly of natural and organic ingredients - many from local sources.

The twelve-table establishment opened Dec. 9, but it had been a glimmer in the eyes of co-owners Pasha Nazari and Marta Majewska for five years.

'Ever since I met Pasha he's been talking about opening something of his own,' said Majewska of her partner in business and life.

A self-taught chef, Nazari grew up in a food family. He ate eclectically, even as a child, and his favorite foods are Persian, because that is what his father cooked.

Nazari kept his eyes peeled for a promising location for his dream venture when the Village spot became available. He grew up five minutes from the small storefront, attending Wilson High School, so 'it seemed like a natural choice,' said Majewska. 'We really like the culture in Multnomah Village. It's full of very supportive small businesses and neighbors.'

The café is already attracting a regular clientele. At a table near the tiny kitchen, Alan Locklear and Marie Valleroy of Hillsdale are enjoying a fairly regular Saturday morning breakfast at the café. They love the Northwest and Greek scrambles, but also want to cast their economic ballot for local and organic food.

'We have to re-localize our food system,' said Locklear, who, like many educated shoppers and eaters these days, wants to know more about the source of the food on his plate.

At a window table are Villagers Jenny and Bruce Suzumoto. They echo the raves for the Greek scramble, praise the fresh juices and 'really friendly service,' said Jenny Suzumoto. 'The place has a nice feel. It's really important, health-wise, to support and encourage organic and natural food,' she said.

She also appreciates that Down to Earth provides stevia, a concentrated herbal sweetener, for her tea.

A job at Wild Oats gave Nazari experience in the natural foods industry, including both vegetarian and vegan cooking. Down to Earth dishes up both, as well as natural beef, pork, chicken and eggs. All of the fruits and vegetables for the smoothies and juices are organic, and while it is not always possible to source organic animal products, 'We do not compromise on the quality of the meat we use,' said Majewska.

All of it is cage-, hormone- and antibiotic-free, and vegetarian-fed. Brands may vary with availability, but the café usually serves Painted Hills beef, Diestel turkey, Beeler's ham and bacon, and Petaluma chicken.

The four-page menu ranges, geographically, from Italy and Greece - panini and spanikopita - to the Middle East - falafel and hummus, to the Southwest - tacos and quesadillas, and home again - Willamette Valley salad which is a mix of greens with red grapes, apples, celery, crumbled gorgonzola, candied walnuts, and chicken breast.

Down to Earth Café is a product of its creators' lifestyle.

'This is how we shop and eat and feed our son,' Majewska said, speaking of 2 -year old Antoni. 'We are true believers in the value of natural foods,' she continued.

In addition to helping out at the restaurant, Majewska holds down a more-than-full-time job as assistant manager of the New Seasons Market in Mountain Park.

Not only are the ingredients Down to Earth serves fresh and natural, but each meal is made to order. Majewska said, 'Nothing is pre-cooked.' Cooking from scratch takes a little longer, 'but it's worth the wait,' she said.

Down to Earth Cafe is located at 7828 S.W. 35th Ave. For more information, please call 503-452-0196.