2014-12-31 / Restaurant of the Week


Come ‘home’ to Portofino Ristorante in Forest Hills where everyone has been treated like family for 40 years. With great regional Italian food, excellent wine and cocktails, and superb service delivered by well-dressed waiters, a meal at Portofino will live on in your memory until your next visit, which will be soon. Besides the wonderful food and overall lovely dining experience, many regulars come to see Carmine, the chief of staff at Portofino, who greets everyone with a smile, a hug, and always remembers your name.

Tuesday is a great night to visit when friends and families gather to enjoy the bounty of Portofino’s famous Tuesday night Italian buffet. For the low price of $24.95, visit the buffet as often as you like for a variety of fresh salads, soups, meat, fish, pasta and poultry entrées. Live music fills the air on many nights, including Tuesday night and the feast includes dessert and coffee. Portofino’s fabulous Sunday brunch provides another array of dishes to satisfy your breakfast, brunch, and lunch cravings for $20.95 including a brunch cocktail or glass of wine.

My friend and I enjoyed another excellent meal at Portofino, where we were doted on by Edgar, our professional waiter. Choose from some festive cocktails such as an apple martini, French martini, cosmopolitan, margarita, or a Portofino piña colada. A bottle or glass of fine wine will complement your meal too. The nightly appetizer special was grilled octopus over a bed of greens and it was tender, grilled to perfection, and beautifully presented in a star-shaped arrangement. The menu has so many tantalizing appetizers such as stuffed artichoke hearts filled with vegetables and crispy bread crumbs, sautéed in a heavenly lemony butter sauce, or crispy baked clams oreganata swimming in savory juices that you’ll soak up with the warm garlic bread brought to your table. An impressive order of jumbo shrimp cocktail was delivered to a fellow diner along with a platter of tempting fried calamari. Grilled Portobello mushrooms are filled with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes, while the carpaccio of beef sirloin is sliced paper thin, served with mixed greens and shaved Parmigiano cheese. If you can’t decide, simply share the hot antipasto platter filled with plump shrimp, clams, mussels, stuffed mushrooms and fresh eggplant rollatini ($12.95).Arugula salad, tricolore salad, and the Giovanni salad with endive, arugula, and radicchio are also great for sharing. Ask about the homemade soup of the day.

Portofino’s is practically synonymous with great pasta, with about 20 recipes to choose among. The evening’s special pasta was black linguine made with squid ink covered with shrimp in white wine sauce and two, yes two lobster tails. Black linguine mare e monte is a regular menu item with mussels, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, garlic and wine sauce over that delectable pasta. Lobster ravioli topped with a light cream sauce makes any night special, as does the fettuccine alla Carmelina. This rustic dish combines fresh fettuccine with sautéed sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, garlic and oil for one on my favorite dishes. Few can resist classic spaghetti carbonara with smokey pancetta or linguine with clam sauce ($18.95). This is the perfect time of year for risotto with woodsy mushrooms sprinkled with grated parmigiano cheese, or meaty, cheesy baked lasagna, baked ziti, or light manicotti crepes that taste as good as nonna’s.

Indulge in a juicy, grilled veal chop, or rib eye steak with roasted peppers and a side of pasta or vegetables. Filet mignon practically cuts with a fork and the lamb chops will melt in your mouth. Chicken Valdostana is labeled as their most popular dish, layered with prosciutto and mozzarella, then sautéed with marsala wine and mushrooms. Chicken piccata has a light, lemony butter sauce while the veal capriccioso is impossibly tender, sautéed with onions, green olives, capers and white wine.

The dessert tray dazzles with zabaglione and berries, carrot cake, chocolate mousse, key lime mousse, pear cabernet tart, tiramisu, caramel custard and more!

Portofino Ristorante is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, from 11 am to 11 pm. You can get here easily with the E or F trains or have your meal delivered to your home or office. There’s complimentary valet parking and you’ll get a free glass of wine with dinner for two, excluding brunch and buffet. Don’t forget their fabulous pizza with its light, crispy crust and all your favorite toppings. Portofino will be open on New Year’s Eve from 11:00am until 8:30pm and closed on New Year’s Day. Gift certificates make the perfect gift for any occasion and you should plan your next party or business event here. Portofino is the place where old friends and good food meet. Salut!

109-32 Ascan Avenue  Forest Hills


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