2015-12-30 / Restaurant of the Week


Portofino Restaurant is proud to be celebrating 41-derful years in Forest Hills. In a city where restaurants come and go like so many subway cars, Portofino Restaurant has prevailed because it’s where old friends and fabulous cuisine come together. There’s another secret to Portofino’s success, and that’s Carmine, the omnipresent overlord of smiles and cheer. He and the staff extend warm hospitality to all guests and in fact, many have been coming since day one!

Tuesday night’s all-you-can-eat buffet starts at 6pm and for $24.95 you can sample many of Portofino’s excellent pasta, chicken, meat, and fish dishes, while live music plays in the background. Live piano music also fills the air on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and that’s a great time to enjoy Portofino’s inventive specials.

A festive, all-inclusive New Year’s Eve will take place from 9pm to 2am with a 5-course meal including wine and open bar, champagne, live music and a d.j. for $155/person. Start with a seafood salad, then a pasta course, and your choice of entrée including surf and turf. Decadent desserts and champagne will be served as you are serenaded.

On a recent weeknight, we started with some of their refreshing cocktails, such as the Mango Mai Tai and the First Kiss. Next we delighted in the chef’s sautéed artichoke hearts in a delicate butter sauce that we mopped up with focaccia warm from the oven. We shared the carpaccio of beef, which is paper-thin slices of raw sirloin surrounded by arugula and tomatoes, topped with shaved Parmigiano cheese, drizzled with fine olive oil. Cold antipasto Italiano offers your favorite cuts of cured prosciutto, salami, cheeses, fresh mozzarella, and roasted peppers all ideal for sharing ($12.95). Grilled Portobello mushrooms are filled with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes, while the shrimp cocktail are plump and fresh. The hot antipasto platter is loaded with juicy shrimp, clams, mussels, stuffed mushrooms and fresh eggplant rollatini ($14.95). Share a tricolore salad or a bowl of homemade soup of the day.

No one serves up pasta like Portofino with more than 20 options to choose among. The evening’s special pasta was homemade pappardelle ribbon pasta with a zesty tomato sauce full of shrimp, scallops, and cherry tomatoes. The generous serving provided enough left over for lunch the next day. Black linguine mare e monte is a regular menu item with mussels, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, garlic and wine sauce over that delectable pasta. My partner devoured his lobster ravioli topped with a light cream sauce and declared it ‘excellent.’ Fettuccine alla Carmelina is a rustic, hearty dish made with sautéed sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, garlic and oil for a satisfying meal. Baked pasta dishes are the perfect comfort food such as stuffed shells, baked ziti, and lasagna, to name a few. Eggplant parmigiana or rollatini are classics served here.

The fish special was fillet of red snapper with garlic, lemon, and white wine sauce, and the menu offers stuffed fillet of sole della casa with shrimp, scallops, and peas in an aromatic scampi sauce. Grilled salmon with vegetables or trout Portofino make for light options. Order frutta di mare over pasta, brimming with shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops and calamari in light tomato sauce.

Chicken DaVinci was the chef’s creation, sauteed with asparagus, roasted peppers, artichokes and brandy sauce. Chicken Valdostana is their most popular dish, stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella in a mushroom Marsala sauce. Chicken piccata has a light, lemony butter sauce while the veal capriccioso is impossibly tender, sautéed with onions, green olives, capers and white wine. 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 along with the mushrooms and Barolo wine sauce that make this dish so special.

Portofino has an expert staff who will happily cater your next family or business event. Carol, a nearby diner, whose mother lived in Forest Hills for many years, asked Carmine to take care of her bereavement lunch and it took just one phone call to arrange it. She had only wonderful things to say about the food, the staff, and service, and I couldn’t agree more.

Save room for dessert because you’ll be tempted by the display tray of peach cobbler, zabaglione with fresh berries, pistachio cheese cake and Oreo mousse cake. Remember there’s still time to reserve your table for New Year’s Eve! Call now to make your reservations or come for a memorable meal any night of the week. Portofino 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 and there’s valet parking. Enjoy Tuesday night’s Buffet or Sunday brunch at Portofino where old friends and fabulous cuisine come together!

109-32 Ascan Avenue • Forest Hills


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