“Porto Bello” literally means “beautiful port” in Italian, and it is a perfect name for this Greenport restaurant. As we walked into the nautically themed dining room, our group of three couldn’t help but be entranced by the beautiful marina right outside the window. Greeted with a serene view of shining boats catching the last rays of sun coming over the horizon, we were smiling from the minute we walked in—and those smiles stayed on our faces for the whole meal.
We started our culinary trip with a nice merlot out of California, the Rodney Strong that was the special wine the week we visited. This delicious flavor was a little sweet, a nice departure from the usual dry wines we have at home. Porto Bello’s summer wine list is still in development, but even so it already includes wines from around the world, from South America (Argentina and Chile) to Europe (Germany and Italy) to right here on the Island (Lenz and Paumanok wineries).
The signature starter is the Grilled Porto Bello Mushroom, and it was the best thing we tasted all night. The mushroom was topped with roasted red peppers, which made the healthy side of my personality happy, and the delicious Gorgonzola cheese on the top added a saltiness that contrasted perfectly with the sweet balsamic reduction that was drizzled on the plate. As my father said, it was very fitting that the restaurant’s name matches the name of the mushroom in one of its best appetizers. My mother chose to order a light Lobster and Avocado mixture with aioli for her first course. She ate everything on her beautifully presented plate. The first glaring hint, though, that we would not leave this restaurant hungry came with the starter that my father ordered. The Cranberry Salad was a simple but delicious mixture of goat cheese, dried cranberries, and cranberry vinaigrette—and it could have been an entire dinner, it was so huge. Wonderful.
We continued on our pseudo-trip to Italy with the help of our wonderful server Elias Martinez, who has been working at Porto Bello for 20 years. His intimate knowledge of Porto Bello’s menu, combined with the outstanding work of sous chefs Edgar Torres and Jose Galicia, helped us find great dishes that fit us perfectly. My Pan Seared Chicken had a delicate flavor, the panko breadcrumbs adding just a slight crisp to the tasty meat. The Jumbo Shrimp and Sea Scallops Puttanesca, served in a tomato sauce over linguini, on my father’s plate elicited him to pronounce that “the key word here is ‘fresh.’” My mother loved her Herb Marinated Grilled Rack of Lamb as well. At this point, we were all so stuffed that we could barely sample the desserts, but when I saw the menu, I knew that I had to try one in particular—the Chocolate Cake for Two (all for myself). That was some delicious icing, which is what usually makes the cake for me, and with some on top and between each of the numerous layers of cake, I was very happy. The Gelati my parents ate provided a refreshing end to their meals.
This beautiful restaurant started back in 1991, and has evolved continuously under the management of owner Diana DiVello. Even though DiVello’s mother Francesca no longer plays as integral a role in the management as she did when the women were partners in the business, her impact is obvious in the photographs surrounding a special family table—a charming touch to an already lovely restaurant.
A sign in the main dining room superbly summed up the entire experience: “A Day Out East…Priceless.”
Porto Bello Restaurant, 1410 Manhasset Ave., Greenport. 631-477-1515. [/expand]