Celebrate Life at... Portofino Ristorante
109-32 Ascan Ave., Forest Hills
The holiday season wouldn't be complete without a visit to Portofino Restaurant in Forest Hills.
The secret to Portofino's success is serving delicious, freshly prepared Italian dishes in abundant portions, for reasonable prices. The barman can mix up a refreshing cocktail, such as a Portofino pina colada, a sassy martini or a Forest Kiss, with champagne and Chambord. A bottle of wine from their extensive list will complement your meal.
Every Tuesday night is Buffet Night, where an extensive buffet is served from 6pm until closing for $18.95. Choose among pasta mare e monte with fresh seafood, mushrooms and tomato, stuffed eggplant, chicken cacciatore, or Portofino's famous "contrimisto", a mélange of chunks of chicken, filet mignon, potatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli in a light Marsala wine sauce. Guests may help themselves to as much as they'd like from this tantalizing buffet.
If you prefer to select from the menu, their classic Italian appetizers such as a cold antipasto platter, with thin slices of provolone, buttery mozzarella, prosciutto, pepperoni, olives and roasted peppers, accompanied by a basket of Portofino's simply addictive garlic bread.
Grilled Portobello mushrooms or stuffed artichokes offer plenty to share. For two or more diners, you should try the hot antipasto platter featuring baked clams, mussels, eggplant rollatini, breaded shrimp and stuffed mushrooms.
Clams or mussels oreganata are swimming in a garlicky broth to be soaked up with warm bread. Freshly tossed salads and homemade soup of the day, such as pasta e fagioli, will hit the spot.
Two can share a pasta entrée as a first course, but Portofino's delicious pasta dishes make an excellent entrée. Tortellini a la Romana are tossed with sautéed broccoli, fresh chunks of tomato and sun-dried tomato for a truly satisfying dish topped with a fresh sprinkling of grated cheese ($13.95). Tender lobster ravioli with baby shrimp in a light cream sauce makes any night special. One of my favorite pasta dishes is fettuccine a la Carmelina, which combines broccoli rabe and Italian sausage with toothsome fettuccine, garlic and oil ($14.95). Farfalle Portofino are bow-tie pasta tossed with chunks of tender filet mignon, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli and garlic. Baked pasta like lasagna, baked ziti or rich manicotti are real comfort food that even kids will eat. Ask about the risotto of the day. Pasta dishes start at $10.95 and come with a crunchy salad and garlic bread.
Chicken Valdostana is their most popular dish and it's no wonder to me. Tender chicken breast is layered with prosciutto and mozzarella, then sautéed with Marsala wine and mushrooms ($19.95). Chicken saltimbocca is fork-tender, pounded chicken breast with fresh spinach, ham and cheese in a light brown sauce. Osso buco is a popular Florentine dish made by slowcooking veal shank in a rich brown reduction sauce. Mouth-watering baby lamb chops with mushrooms sautéed in red Barolo wine is among my favorites.
Portofino specializes in the freshest fish and seafood, prepared in a variety of creative ways. Fresh trout Portofino is baked with scallions and tomatoes, while fillet of sole marechiara is sautéed with mussels and clams in a light tomato sauce ($19.95). Fillet of sole Francese just melts in your mouth. Plump shrimp are prepared fra diavolo, scampi or oreganata style, all of which are superb. Frutti di mare combines tender shellfish with a light tomato sauce, served over a mound of linguine. Listen for nightly fish specials such as fresh red snapper livornese, with scallops and clams. All meat, chicken and fish dishes are served with a side order of pasta or fresh vegetables.
The service, even on the busiest nights, is friendly and efficient. The professional waiters will bring over a tempting dessert tray to tantalize you with goodies such as chocolate mousse parfait, strawberry parfait or creamy zabaglione, layered with fresh berries. Cakes include white chocolate mousse and moist carrot cake. Of course, you must have a steaming cup of cappuccino or espresso to top off the meal, or an after dinner cordial.
Portofino Ristorante is open seven days a week for lunch
and dinner, from 11 am to 11 pm. The adjoining pizzeria offers great pizza and
take-away dishes as well. Sunday Brunch is very special, served from 11am till
3pm, featuring lots of breakfast items, such as eggs and pancakes, as well as
soups, salads, entrées, pastas and more. The low price of $17.95 includes a
drink, dessert and coffee and piano music plays throughout. Portofino will be
open Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve from 11:00am until 8:30pm. They will be
closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Gift certificates make the perfect gift
for any occasion, private parties are happily arranged and valet parking is
available. Enjoy all of life's celebrations or just celebrate life at Portofino.