Sunday, January 28, 2007

Al Porto Ristorante (January 2007)

[This review is by alyn. She is EXCELLENT!]

Reviewer: alyn

If I were to describe the food experience in this restaurant, I would say, "Very, very good!" So if you're considering a place to try out, then you should definitely put this place on your list!! I've tried all the food we ordered and I was very satisfied with each one of them! $25 is well-worth it!

Carpaccio di Manzo
Brandy mustard and shaved Grana Padano
-- or --
Insalata Caprese
Bocconcini & organic Roma tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil & balsamic reduction
-- or --
Tuscan Parfait
citrus red currant jelly & baby gherkins

I had the insalata caprese -- thinly-sliced tomatoes with the bocconcini on top. The balsamic was elemental in providing a nice contrast to the tomatoes -- it released the natural sweetness of the fruit. I loved that this dish was very simple yet refreshing.

Grace had the carpaccio. We were at-a-loss with the Italian terms in the menu and discovered that this was actually thinly-sliced beef over shavings of Grana Padano. I was reminded of beef sashimi but I'm not certain if the beef in the carpaccio was also raw. Regardless, I still liked it.

Most of our friends had the Tuscan Parfait or liver pate with a small serving of greens on the side. Although I don't really eat liver (don't really like internal organs), the small piece I had was tasty. It wasn't gamey, and not bad at all. I can have another piece of this, given the chance.

Pollo Cacciatore
Free-range chicken upon buttered fettucine
-- or --
Tournedos of Beef w/ wild mushroom demi-glace
-- or --
Frutti di Mare alla Casalinga
prawns, scallops, wild salmon & halibut in a Marsala sauce
-- or --
Penne with Spicy Sauce (?)
(not on the Dine-Out Vancouver menu on the web)

The menu on the web only provides three choices for the entree, but the restaurant actually gives its diners four choices. The parties at our table either had the fruitti di mare or the beef. I took a peek at the other tables and most of them also had the same things. Guess they also wanted "bang for their bucks." =)

I LOVE MY FRUITTI DI MARE!!! It was fantabulous!!!!

No scrimping because it's dine-out week at all!!!! The dish came with two prawns (not shrimp!!!), two humongous scallops, cubes of halibut and salmon, on a bed of vegetables -- green beans, carrots, brocolli, and sliced red pepper -- with a side of scalloped potatoes. Just describing it gives you an idea how huge the serving is! I loved the prawns -- very firm (so they're fresh!), not overdone, not "overdressed" so that one could actually relish the real taste of the prawns. I also appreciated the fact that we had a selection of vegetables on our plate. Not only did this give the dish more colour, it also gave the diners more variety. The scallops were also a mouthful -- had to slice them because they were big, even bigger than the loonie and about 3/4" thick.

As a whole, I liked that this dish was able to preserve the true tastes of seafood. The sauce used was not strong so as to overpower the innate sweetness of the ingredients.

Grace had the beef and it was very juicy. A picture says a thousand words and a clean plate says it all!

Zuppa Inglese fruit panetone pudding with Creme Anglaise
-- or --
Chocolate Ganache Torte w/ strawberry coulis
-- or --
Tiramisu (not seen in the Dine-Out Vancouver menu on the web)

I had the pudding because (1) I figured I would be too full to have the torte, (2) I only had panetone when they came in a box so I wanted to find out the difference if I ordered from a restaurant (hopefully, they didn't take it out of a box..)

(1) reason -- Not true. One can never be too full to have chocolate, esp THIS torte. The torte had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency and was heavenly! I've never had torte like this.. I was taking big swipes out of Grace's plate and someone even offered me half of their portion (Bless her, and I didn't say, "No.") Thank goodness I don't eat this everyday. Otherwise, I'll be as big as a barge..

(2) panetone -- Not at all "airy" like the boxed panetone I had before.. It was dense but not as dense as fruit cakes go.. If I didn't have the torte, I would really like this but the torte "ruined" it for me..

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