When stepping inside the Portofino restaurant off Austin Street in Forest Hills, the aroma of melted cheese and pasta fills the air. Visitors are greeted by a host who will seat them at a table, however, a few lucky visitors are greeted and seated by the owner of the restaurant himself, Carmine Polito.
Polito, who spoke to “Good Morning New York” about his restaurant, displays a charming and polite demeanor, greeting guests with a smile. When he showed my family and I to our seats he was friendly, and engaged in a conversation with us while we waited for our food.
I asked Polito why he enjoys being the owner of Portofino. “I love what I do, but not only that, I do this job because I get to see families such as yours bond over a meal” Polito responded.
Before the main course came out, my family and I decided to order the fried calamari and stuffed mushrooms as appetizers. I was not disappointed when the appetizers came out, especially with the fried calamari. The calamari tasted crispy yet fresh, while the stuffed mushrooms had the right amount of melted cheese in each one. Once we were finished with our appetizers a few minutes later our main course came out.
When I saw the roasted Atlantic salmon I ordered, it looked delicious. I waited until everyone got their food, then began eating my salmon served with one baked potato and steamed broccoli. Like the fried calamari, the salmon tasted as if it was recently caught in the Atlantic Ocean. It was fresh, perfectly cooked, and seasoned. The baked potato I had with the steamed broccoli was good as well, but the salmon with mustard sauce drizzled on top was the highlight of the dish for me. I appreciated that the portion size of the dish I ordered wasn’t very large, as this gave me space for dessert.
For dessert, I ordered a piece of chocolate cake with chocolate syrup sprinkled on it, and whip cream on the side. However, before the dessert came out our waiter served coffee to us along with the milk and sugar. When our waiter saw we were done drinking our coffee, then the dessert was brought out.
The chocolate cake I ordered was soft in the inside with mousse oozing out of it when I broke off a piece of the cake with my spoon. I then, dipped my cake in the whipped cream and chocolate syrup, which made the cake taste more scrumptious. As I was eating this delicious piece of cake Polito came over to our table to see how we were doing. We told him how good the food was, and how we appreciated the hospitality he was showing us.
I noticed on my way to the bathroom there was a woman who started playing the piano in the restaurant making the atmosphere feel more tranquil. As I left Portofino, not surprisingly, I was greeted at the door by Polito. He thanked us for coming, and we assured him again that we had a great time.
As a note, the food at Portofino is on the pricier side, from 11 to 30 dollars. However, I thought the hospitality I received at this restaurant compared to others made the price worthwhile.
For anyone interested in going to Portofino it is located at 109-32 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills, NY 11375.