I have been really wanting to go to Portalli's since it opened and I'm not quite sure why I've never made it in there, until now. It was my sister's birthday so we went to Portalli's as a family to have a nice dinner.
The location is great - right on main street in Old Ellicott City. Parking was fairly easy to find since it was a Thursday evening. I had been in the restaurant when it was the site for Jordan's Steakhouse and I feel that the ambiance and atmosphere is similar inside - very nice and comfortable.
I felt that the service was spot on this evening. Our server was attentive, knowledgeable, and helpful the entire night. When we arrived at the restaurant it was slightly busy as well, though most people seemed to be paying their bills.
For starters we had the Calamari and the PEI Mussels. The Calamari was okay - I wouldn't say it was anything spectacular and I felt that it was a dish that I could have had anywhere. It was nice that the calamari wasn't too chewy though. The PEI Mussels were so tempting because they said they were steamed with pomegranate. I thought the quality of the mussel was poor - very small and overcooked - and the taste of the dish was not that great; there were a lot that had the "old" mussel taste or ones that were not cooked all of the way.
For salads we ordered the Portalli Salad (goat cheese, poached pear, walnuts, and lemon dressing) and the Caprese. I thought the size and taste of the Portalli salad was incredible; the dressing was out of this world. The Caprese was good too, but fairly difficult to mess up.
For entrees, my sister and I got the Pan Seared Scallops with Celery & Cauliflower Risotto. The dish was fantastic! The scallops were perfectly cooked and the risotto had great flavor! My Dad had the Surf and Turf Pasta which he said was great - it looked very rich. My Mom had the Filet. I thought the quality of the Filet, overall, was great but it was lacking in flavor. There was the butter on top but there was absolutely no seasoning to the steak. Add a little salt and pepper and it was much better. For the table we ordered a small side of gnocchi with the spicy marinara. Pretty good but didn't blow us out of the water.
The Orange Crush made with San Pellegrino and fresh orange juice is very good!
For dessert we had the chocolate chip cannoli and the poached pear in a puff pastry. Both dishes were delicious!
Overall I thought the prices were reasonable, the service was great, and the food was pretty good. I will definitely come back again and try other dishes. The nice thing about Portalli's is that you can try a lot of everything without feeling overstuffed. In addition, you can go there if you feel like getting stuffed or if you just want to grab a small bite to eat.
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