Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Portofino deserves a chance to earn your business

When the news broke late last year that Florence's in Merrimack was closing, I couldn't help but wonder what would move into the existing space. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long as Portofino opened several weeks ago. For those of you familiar with the Italian restaurants in southern New Hampshire, you might be surprised to see that the former owners of Pastamore in Amherst opened Portofino.

The basic structure of the building is still the same but they did add some style with cosmetic changes to class it up a bit. Plenty of seating with all tables and a small bar area to the left as you enter.

You can have your pick of Italian favorites including beef, chicken, veal, pork and seafood dishes. If you are a pasta lover we recommend their freshly made Pappardelle. Now on to the eating!

Our starter was their homemade rice balls with cheese.

These are good but we missed the meat and peas which is our preference for arancini. Three per serving and a marinara sauce for dipping.

For an entree I selected the chicken cacciatore:

Teeming with fresh vegetables along with two large chicken breasts the chef should be pleased with this entree. I like the sauce a bit thicker but this is a matter of preference.

My wife chose the shrimp Genova.

Prepared with their homemade Pappardelle this dish was filled with shrimp, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic all tossed in a white wine sauce. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal and had plenty to bring home for leftovers.

Finally for dessert we had my wife's favorite Italian dessert, Spumoni.

This version was slightly different for two reasons. First, the pink gelato is usually cherry flavor but this version was strawberry. It took a second for her to get adjusted to the change and it was still delicious. The second difference was that the gelato was served inside a hard chocolate shell. Eating this was like eating two desserts and we highly recommend trying to for yourself.

A new location for the owners is a plus for all who enjoy Italian food. You should give them an opportunity to earn your business. We will be back.