Portofino’s Italian Ristorante – Latham, NY

Portofino's out front

It’s a rare occasion that an Italian restaurant catches my attention. The capital region is fairly saturated with spaghetti and red sauce restaurants that, although they should be, just aren’t my thing. I’ve been hearing some interesting things about Portofino’s Italian Ristorante in Latham (831 New Loudon Road) from various friends and other media outlets, so I thought it would be a good idea to check it out.

If nothing else, it would be an opportunity to dine with my friend, Michelle, who is a regular at Portofino’s.

The restaurant is attached to the Travelodge hotel that’s just north of the Latham circle, and the Wednesday evening we were there, only a small portion of the dining area (the area adjacent to the bar) was occupied with diners; this area was full, however. The space clearly served as a banquet hall in the past. I don’t care because I’ll eat anywhere as long as the food is good.

Eggplant napoleon on menu

I decided on the Eggplant Napoleon (Eggplant, goat cheese mousse, seasonal roasted tomatoes, onion mostrada, polenta fries and basil Р$8 or $14 for a larger portion) as a starter.

Eggplant napoleon 1

Eggplant napoleon 2

This was a very nicely put together and well presented dish. All of the different flavors played nicely off of each other, and the textures and consistencies of everything on the plate really made lots of sense as I ate through it. In particular, the goat cheese mousse added a tartness that really cut through a lot of the sweetness in the dish and through the slight bitterness of the eggplant.

Dinner came with a house salad with tasty balsamic vinaigrette.

House salad

Pollo alla parmigiana on menu

For dinner, I went with the (Italian) American classic, Pollo alla Parmigiana (Breaded chicken cutlet stuffed with fresh mozzarella and basil with house pomodoro sauce and parmesan cheese – $15). Besides the fact that I really like well-executed chicken parmigiana, it was served with pappardelle that was made in house.

Pollo alla parmigiana

House made pappardelle

The dish was very good. The pasta was cooked a little past aldente, and the sauce was a little watery, as you can amass from the above pictures. Ideally, fresh pasta is blanched in water and then allowed to cook to aldente in the tomato sauce; this method creates an environment where the pasta releases some starch into the sauce and that helps to thicken the sauce and to help it adhere to the pasta. I bet the timing on this was a little off. The flavors and seasoning were great, and, issues with the consistency of the sauce aside, the pasta tasted great. The chicken was infused with a subtle aroma and flavor of fresh basil.

For kicks, I had also ordered Regianno Risotto from their “Contorni” {Side dish} menu ($6). I thought it would be a fun thing to order because both Michelle and I talk a big game when it comes to our risotto.

IMAG0593

Visually, the risotto looked great. It was fluid and creamy, as it should be. I took a bite and was surprised by the creaminess. There was something in there above and beyond the expected butter and parmigianno cheese; I recently spoke with Chef Justin who told me he finishes his risotto with a little cream. The rice was a little shy of aldente, probably another snafu with the timing.

For dessert, since the restaurant had more or less cleared out by that point, the chef made something special for us, chocolate souffle.

Chocolate Souffle

It was interesting as he brought it out; we could tell he was trying to walk lightly so as to not deflate the souffle. I felt a little bad that we were positioned all the way in the farthest corner from the kitchen. The souffle kept an impressive rise, and the chocolate sauce was artfully aromatic. We took bites as the chef was explaining that it was the first time he’s made souffle in a while, and I noted the strong and lovely flavor of high quality vanilla. This was absolutely divine and I’m sure a pain in the ass to make.

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Vanilla creme brulee

Other desserts that made their way to the table were a delicious pumpkin creme brulee garnished with blueberries, and an absolutely superb vanilla creme brulee garnished playfully with cotton candy (seriously, the vanilla they use is outstanding).

Overall, it was a very enjoyable meal. Portofino’s beats the hell out of the chains that comprise Latham’s dining scene.


Advertisement

4 thoughts on “Portofino’s Italian Ristorante – Latham, NY

  • Michelle Hines Abram

    What a fun night we had! Looking forward to the next one!


  • Christine V

    We ate there last Saturday and I wanted to love it but couldn’t – our party of 4 apparently had 3 lovely meals and one (mine) not successful. The salmon special looked (and tasted according to my friend) divine; husband’s veal parm was well received; veal/pesto/mozz special was a hit with friend but I substituted the pappardelle for the linguini and it did not translate well. I should have inquired as to the presence of any sauce on the veal (none) since when I cook I use the same amount for half a recipe – hate dry dishes. But I will try again!


    • derryX

      Based on what you’re telling me, I’d say there’s enough data there for you to revisit and see how it turns out. Three from your party loved their meals, plus I have to say it’s one of the better Italian style dinners I’ve had locally, so give it another shot.

      Fresh pasta definitely needs sauce, so I’d recommend ordering the fresh pappardelle that’s finished in a sauce. Ohh, and save room for dessert! In addition to the great desserts I had at Portofino’s, Chef Justin was responsible for the divine dessert I had at the Scotch Dinner two weeks ago. He knows his sweets!


      • Christine V

        Oh we will – thanks for your feedback. My friend had the tiramisu and thought it was just OK.But we all agreed we’d go again!



Advertisement

Leave a Reply