109-32 Ascan Ave., Forest Hills
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week
Forest Hills’ family-owned Italian restaurant Portofino has been in business for 40 years. Given the quality of food, the delightful ambiance and the impeccable service, that should come as no surprise.
My girlfriend and I were instantly taken with the cozy feel and low-key decor of the restaurant. An accordion player offered music that was pleasant and not the least bit intrusive to our dining experience. As soon as we sat down, we were cared for by our attentive waiter, who always made sure we had everything we needed.
Of course, what makes or breaks a restaurant is the food. Portofino exceeded every single expectation I had. The quality and portions from start to finish were absolutely fantastic. By the end of the meal, my girlfriend and I were already discussing our next visit.
We started with hot antipasto and bruschetta to whet our appetites. The former featured shrimp, clams, mussels, stuffed mushrooms, eggplant rollatini and zucchini oreganata in a light red sauce. Each item was delectable, blending wonderfully with the sauce. It was a great serving for two to share. The latter was softer and thicker than bruschetta at other restaurants, but still full of flavor, a nice take on an Italian classic.
When it comes to dinner, it’s all about the entrée, and Portofino’s were perfect in nearly every way. I ordered the Veal Della Casa, intrigued by its mix of veal scallopini, shrimp and asparagus in a light cream sauce. The veal was beyond tender, slathered in a sauce that invigorated all of my taste buds. The shrimp and asparagus were excellent companions to the veal, throwing in a whole new world of flavor.
My girlfriend, who is not big on hyperbole, ordered the pork ossobuco in a brown sauce over rice and called it one of the most delicious things she has ever eaten. From the bite I tried, I was in complete agreement.
After a delicious dessert of coffee and chocolate cake, my girlfriend and I were left completely satisfied with every aspect of our evening at Portofino. Maybe next time, we will try the Tuesday night buffet, which runs from 6 p.m. until closing, or the restaurant’s Sunday brunch, which goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Either way, I know we, and anyone else who enters Portofino’s doors, will end their experience with a meal to remember.