Restaurant Review: Porto Bello

I turned off of Sound Avenue into Greenport’s Stirling Harbor and excitedly drove all the way down, to Dan’s Papers Best of the Best Italian Restaurant of 2012, Porto Bello. I’d never been to this popular spot, and after hearing all the praise for it, I had high expectations. Luckily, the restaurant not only met my expectations—it exceeded them.

Porto Bello has it all—great ambience, excellent service, an eclectic drink list and most of all, a wonderful menu. After being seated next to a window where we could see dusk settling on Greenport, my two companions and I were immediately immersed in the menu. I considered ordering Fresh Littleneck Clams Casino-style, but the allure of Fried Calamari proved too powerful. One of my friends ordered the Grilled “Porto Bello” Mushroom, and the waiter, Elias, had a special beet salad prepared for my other friend, a vegan. I perused the special drinks and decided on the local Vineyard 48 NoFo Peach wine.

The large plate of Fried Calamari, served with a marinara sauce, proved to be just the right portion. The calamari was both chewy and had a light crunch to it, and while I wasn’t in love with the marinara sauce, I really enjoyed the dish. The Grilled Porto Bello Mushroom was a hit with my guest, who praised its flavor and texture. And my vegan guest ate his beet salad right up, noting that everything tasted very fresh. I was impressed that the kitchen was not only able to accommodate a request for something not featured on the main menu, but also put great effort into making sure it was a high-quality dish.

My first sip of the Vineyard 48 NoFo Peach caused me to exclaim, “I could drink this like juice!”

Looking to the Chef’s Special menu for my entree, I couldn’t resist the Roast Rack of Lamb over Shallot Potatoes with a Balsamic Fig Reduction. My vegan friend ordered Pasta Primavera without cheese, and my other friend went with the Chef’s Special Lobster Ravioli with Shiitake Mushrooms, Shallot Parmesan Cream Sauce and Fresh Chopped Chives. The lamb was tender, juicy and seasoned lightly, and the shallot mashed potatoes disappeared from my plate very quickly. The lobster ravioli was nicely dense and luscious, and the pasta primavera
was a hit.

After the savory lamb, I needed something to satisfy my sweet tooth. At Elias’s recommendation, I decided to try the Upside Down Cheesecake (a small, round cheesecake) topped with fresh strawberries and a light strawberry drizzle, surrounded by dollops of whipped cream. It was a great capper to the dinner.

My friend enjoyed the Porto Bello Port by Pugliese, a fortified red wine, which wasn’t too sweet and had good body (and great legs!).

Something that really impressed me—and my two companions—was the way the service was handled. How many times have you gone to a restaurant, started to enjoy your meal and then started rushing when waiters came to take plates away too quickly? The staff at Porto Bello was exceptionally professional at all times; they let us dine without interruption, didn’t hover with a pitcher of water to pour every
10 seconds and they were helpful when asked questions. Elias was very personable and friendly.

I’d love to return to Porto Bello; there are many things I’d still like to try. Next time I’ll plan to sit outside by the water and sip sparkling wine from Sparkling Pointe in Southold. So much good food, so little time…

Porto Bello is located at 1410 Manhasset Avenue, Greenport. For more information and to view the menu, go to portobellonorthfork.com.

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