Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Portofino Restaurant - Italian Restaurant in Arlington, VA (Revisited)

526 23rd St S, Arlington, VA 22202
(703) 979-8200

Perfection! If you have not been to Portofino in Crystal City, don't walk, run there.  They are a family-owned restaurant (since 1970!) and this certainly comes through in the solid quality of food and service.  Everything about this restaurant is wonderful.  We have eaten here 4 or 5 times (first reviewed here in 2010) and each time can't wait to return. There is so much thoughtfulness, seamlessness and warmth that is conveyed to the customer through each dining experience, we cannot help but think that this is probably the way all restaurants should be.

To begin with, in an area where parking is at a premium, the parking lot behind the restaurant alleviates the time and frustration it takes to park on the busy 23rd Street.  When entering the restaurant from the parking lot through the back door, you are immediately greeted by the owner and manager welcoming you to the dining room through the office / bar area.  There are two dining rooms in Portofino - one with about 15 tables in an ornate (but not over the top, fortunately) atmosphere and one down the stairs toward that back that is huge and seemingly always busy on a weekend evening.  

The menu lists everything that you could ever want to eat at a fine Italian dining establishment, but wait... the manager personally comes to your table and describes the specials, which for us included two different asparagus appetizers and a half a dozen mouthwatering entrees so creatively designed and so deliciously described that it's hard not to order one of everything just to try.  While we were listening to the specials, ice water and freshly-baked bread were served at our table.  There is something about the olive oil set in a bottle on each individual table that somehow was different from most olive oils and was a particularly flavorful dip for the bread.

We had the calamari appetizer that came with a thick spicy dipping sauce with a hint of horseradish.  In addition to the plentiful selection of food between the menu and the specials, Portofino always accommodates any special requests.  Ours was a Puttanesca capellini, which was fantastic.  We also had the Veal Parmigiana that was smothered in a marinara sauce and cheese with a side of vegetables - all heavenly.

Prices were quite reasonable, too.  The calamari was $8.95, the Puttanesca was $14.95 and the Veal $20.95.  Most other similar restaurants of this caliber typically charge much more.

For dessert, we could not resist sharing the ricotta cheese cake that came in a mild and tangy lime sauce, topping off an excellent meal. Of course with a frothy capuccino.

While the wait staff were all very attentive and friendly, we could not write this review without mentioning one of the greatest assets of Portofino - Julio, a waiter who has worked there for 28 years.  He starts off by joking that this is his first day on the job, fooling you for about a second, and then it's clear he is highly versed in what he is doing.

Thank you for a lovely meal, Portofino! And again, we can't wait to return.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.