Shari Newman teams with daughter on new deli in downtown Lake Oswego

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Chef Rachel Pinson proudly displays her latest creation of foccacia bread at Nicolettas Table.There are many wonderful things about Nicoletta's Table, including the table.

It is long, rough-hewn and a perfect place for a family to settle down to enjoy some delicious Italian food.

The table pretty much symbolizes everything that Shari Newman aspires to at her new Italian delicatessen at 333 S. State St. in Lake Oswego. Well-fed families are happy families.

"I love Italy and I love my family," Newman said. "I came here and found that the previous owner was selling. All of the pieces fell together."

Nicoletta's Table is a labor of love for Newman, who was already plenty busy as a wife, mother, successful real estate agent, world traveler, civic leader and missionary. The final factor was giving her daughter, Rachel Pinson, the chance to begin her career as a chef.

Actually, Pinson has been a chef since age 5 when she performed the astonishing feat of making fried chicken for her family. Pinson has been cooking up a storm ever since because her family chose to have family dinners together as often as possible. And as fresh as possible.

"We even brought our sausage maker to the beach," Pinson said.

But originally, she chose to become a professional in the housing industry. Pinson attained her degree in housing design and business marketing at Oregon State University in 2008. This, of course, was the year when the housing industry started to go belly up.

Opportunities in this field faded away, so Pinson gradually followed her inclination and talent to take jobs in the food industry. One of them was working with famed Portland soup chef Jeremy Davidson, owner of the Portland Soup Company.

Now Pinson is going out on her own as "Chef Rachel."

"When the universe speaks, you'd better listen," Pinson said.

The universe is wise, because Pinson is already turning out terrific food at Nicoletta's Table. Prepare for ecstasy when you try her lasagna, and there is so much more. Like fresh pasta, pizza, zuppa (soup), salsa, house foccacia, antipasto, panini sandwiches and more.

If you are lucky you can watch Pinson make fresh pasta in a large steel vat and then use the pasta cutter to cut the huge flat sheets of pasta into desired shapes. It is so fun that it's more like a toy than a tool.

Newman has gone to great effort to make her place special. One was acquiring the same kind of coffee maker that is used by the Pope. There are only 100 of them in the world. It looks somewhat like the robot R2D2 in Star Wars.

"Everything we make here is 100 percent from scratch ingredients," Pinson said. "There are no mixes and no preservatives. It is really rewarding to introduce people to food like this."

"Rachel wanted a career that would feed her soul," Newman said.

Pinson and Newman are getting tremendous help from family members who have flocked in to report for work.

"We've known each other forever," Pinson said.

The person who should be thanked for all this is Nicoletta. Yes, there really is a Nicoletta in Italy, and over the past nine years she and Newman have become dear friends. Nicoletta introduced Newman to the joy of Italian cooking, and she has provided several recipes for the delicatessen.

Someday Nicoletta will come to visit Lake Oswego and see the restaurant that is named in her honor. The table will be ready for her.

For more information about Nicoletta's Table, go to the website Call 503-699-2927 to reserve the dining room for parties or make special orders. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Lake Plaza Shopping Center in Lake Oswego.

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