Of The Week
Old Friends, Good Food Meet At Portofino Ristorante
I’m always happy to visit Portofino Ristorante at Queens Boulevard and Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills. The secret to Portofino’s success is to serve delicious, freshly prepared Italian dishes in abundant portions, for reasonable prices. Entire families can enjoy a meal together and friends and "first dates" also can have a pleasant meal in the comfortable dining room. On a recent night, at least three birthday celebrations were taking place, with lots of good food, good cheer and singing. Carmine, the amiable owner, and Mario, the manager, know most of their customers by name, as well they should after 29 years in business. Portofino is better than ever and a standard of mine. Come see why.
The spacious dining room occupies two levels and piano music, played Wednesday through Sunday nights, can be heard throughout the restaurant. Start with a bottle of wine while you decide among tempting appetizers such as mussels posillipo, cooked in red or white wine sauce with lots of garlic and basil ($7.95). Two or more diners must try the hot antipasto platter featuring baked clams, mussels, eggplant rollatini, breaded shrimp and stuffed mushrooms($7.95).
The chef has a number of specialties, including filet mignon sautéed with mushrooms in a Barolo wine sauce. This dish is presented beautifully with both filets grilled to perfection and flanked by oven roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables. A side of pasta is also available. Osso buco, veal shank in a rich brown sauce, is a popular Florentine dish. Baby lamb chops with mushrooms sautéed in red wine makes an excellent choice for a hearty appetite as does veal Luciano, sautéed with spinach, roasted peppers and black olives ($17.95).
Portofino specializes in the freshest of fish and seafood, prepared in a variety of creative ways. Trout alla Portofino is a delectable boneless filet stuffed with shrimp, scallops and sweet peas in a scampi sauce ($19.95). Filet of sole marechiara is sautéed with mussels and clams in a light tomato sauce ($14.95). The special the evening we visited was filet of striped bass with mussels and calamari, which my companion made a considerable dent in; but still, enough was left to pack to go. This huge platter, a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, came with a choice of vegetables. I devoured the filet of sole francese with mushrooms and white wine. Shrimp is prepared fra diavolo, scampi or oreganata style, all of which are superb. All entrees are served with garlic bread and your choice of pasta, vegetables or a house salad.
Any one of Portofino’s delicious pasta dishes could be dinner itself. Tortellini alla nonna is prepared in a light cream sauce with sweet peas. Gnocchi alla vodka or spaghetti Bolognese make a satisfying meal. Al dente penne with spinach, chunks of chicken and fresh tomato in garlic sauce makes a healthy meal. Pasta dishes start at $10.95 and come with a crunchy salad and garlic bread.
Portofino Ristorante is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, from 11 am to 11 pm. Every Tuesday night from 6 to 11 p.m., there’s a huge buffet dinner featuring dozens of pasta, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. For the low price of $16.95, you can enjoy this wonderful buffet with your friends or family. The price includes dessert and coffee. Sunday brunch is very special too, served from 11am 3 p.m. and featuring breakfast items, soups, salads, pastas and more. The low price of $13.95 includes a drink, dessert and coffee. Piano music is played throughout the brunch serving time.
Crispy pizza specialties, baked in the adjoining pizzeria, are another specialty. Pies are served in individual size or large, each with favorite toppings. Have one for lunch, dinner, an appetizer or order one to go.
When the waiter brings over the dessert tray, it’s hard to resist such selections as chocolate mousse parfait, strawberry parfait or creamy zabaglione, layered with fresh berries. Cakes include white chocolate mousse, chocolate pistachio mousse cake, carrot cake, cappuccino cake and black and white cake. Of course, have a steaming cup of cappuccino or espresso or an after dinner cordial to top off the meal.
I’m looking forward to my next visit to Portofino. Bring your family and friends to Portofino Ristorante where old friends and good food meet seven days a week. Gift certificates are perfect for any occasion. Private parties can be arranged. Valet parking is available.
109-32 Ascan Ave.