2002-07-31 / Restaurant of the Week


Of The WeekNewly Expanded Porto Bello Is Better Than Ever
By Teresa Barile

Of The Week
Newly Expanded Porto Bello Is Better Than Ever

Porto Bello has always been a favorite casual restaurant of mine, offering freshly prepared pasta, chicken, steak and fish dishes as well as excellent pizza. Now there's even more to love about Porto Bello. Thanks to its recent expansion, the new dining room is double its original size, yet is still tastefully decorated for a pleasant dining atmosphere. The expanded dining room features cool terrazzo tile floors and cream colored walls hung with framed photos, illuminated by sleek lighting. In addition, a private party room elegantly decorated to accommodate up to 55 people has been added. Keep it in mind for your next private party or business banquet. Service in both rooms is delivered by a friendly, efficient wait staff that is always willing to accommodate every party, especially those with children.

Porto Bello's entrées measure up to those found at more expensive Italian restaurants. The veal sorrentino, tender veal cutlets layered with fresh eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella is served with salad or a bowl of pasta. You can't beat the $13.95 price. The same price will get you delectable chicken Porto Bello, sautéed with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes in light brown sauce. Entrées are beautifully presented on oversized dinner plates with rims garnished with chopped parsley. All entrees come with a choice of pasta or fresh salad. The freshly baked foccaccia, still warm, will help soak up the delicious sauces on your plate. The portions are so generously sized, you'll probably have some to take home for tomorrow's lunch.

Daily specials will surely tantalize your taste buds as well. We started with an order of clams casino, with sizzling chopped bacon, onion and melted mozzarella served piping hot from the oven, just $7.95 for six large clams. Another special was chicken sautéed with fresh asparagus, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes in a white wine and lemon sauce. I devoured a filet of red snapper with crisp, tender oven-roasted potatoes, served over sautéed broccoli rabe ($14.95).

If you love pasta--and who doesn't--Porto Bello has added new pasta items to its menu in addition to old-fashioned favorites like spaghetti Bolognese, full of ground beef, or fettuccine Alfredo, in a rich cream sauce. Penne al gamberi is tossed with plump shrimp in a pink sherry wine sauce ($12.95). Penne Palermo will tingle your taste buds with broccoli and sausage in a roasted garlic sauce ($10.95). Porto Bello also makes their own baked pasta dishes including stuffed shells, manicotti, lasagna and baked ziti, all at about $7 for a generous portion.

Steak is also on the menu, served pizzaiola style, with onions, peppers and tomatoes. Steak alla Porto Bello features sautéed mushrooms in a red wine sauce.

Porto Bello has reasonably priced wines available by the glass or by the bottle to enhance your meal.

Porto Bello serves both American-style pizza and brick-oven pizza, handcrafted as they do in Italy. Thin, crisp-crusted pizza is topped with fresh tomatoes, cheese and any additional toppings, preferred. A Neopolitan-style 18-inch large pie is $9.95 and Sicilian style is $12.95. The house specialty is "grandma's" pizza, aptly named for its nostalgic appearance and flavor, with mozzarella layered onto the dough first, then topped with a smattering of fresh tomatoes. Try a slice of grandma's for $2 or a whole pie for $13.50. Porto Bello offers free delivery, so you can enjoy their specialties at home or at the office.

Porto Bello is open every day for lunch and dinner, with plenty of great choices for lunch. Try the pizza or an overstuffed hero sandwich, served hot, including chicken, veal, shrimp or eggplant parmigiana, sausage and peppers or my own grandmother's specialty, potatoes and eggs. Finish your meal with coffee, espresso or cappuccino and a hand-filled cannoli or a slice of creamy cheesecake, fresh berry tart or tiramisu that is out of this world.

Porto Bello offers free delivery and catering for all occasions. Keep them in mind for your next office function or family event in the new private party room. Open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., 10 p.m. on Sundays. You can fax in an order for delivery to home or office. Try all the delicious entrées, sandwiches and pizza at the new Porto Bello.

Porto Bello

43-18 Ditmars. Blvd., Astoria


204-8759 fax

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