Il Porto is a wonderful restaurant located in the Festival Shopping Center. It is an Italian restaurant owned and run for the last 9 years by Alberto Cruz, who is from El Salvador. He has worked in Italian restaurants including Pines of Rome and Filomina and has learned to prepare excellent southern Italian food. It is his estimate that 80% of his customers at Il Porto are regulars. He has a well trained staff, also from El Salvador. (They kept refilling our water glasses without prompting). There is a small bar with a nice wine selection. My wife and I had a half bottle of Chianti Ruffino ($11*).
The menu is not enormous but quite sufficient. The excellent crispy Italian white bread is home made. They provide a bowl of olive oil with garlic and cheese for dipping. There is hot and cold antipasti, pasta of different types and spaghetti. The cold antipasti include Caesar salad ($3*), Red Peppers and Anchovies ($5*), and Antipasto ($6*). The hot antipasti has minestrone soup ($3*), eggplant parmigiana ($7*) and Zuppa de Mussels with white or red sauce ($7*). Our waiter, Oved, unhesitatingly suggested the red sauce. My wife and I shared the mussels and they were both tender and tasty. We also had a small plate of white beans with onions which were very good. There is a pizza selection including white pizza in both small and large sizes ($9 and $5*). They offer a fish and sea food menu that includes shrimp parmigiana ($12*), friend calamari with linguine in a red sauce ($10*), and a fish platter with white or red sauce ($12*). Also, they offer meats that include pork chops ($9*), Ossobucco ($12*) and chicken cacciatore ($9*). But, the real pleasure is the rather long list of specials that are changed every day. On the night that we ate there we were offered Asparagus Parmigiana ($7*), soft shell crabs ($18*), Jumbo crab cakes ($18*), flounder ($17 or $19 depending whether it is broiled or crispy*), rock fish fillet ($18*), salmon fillet ($16*), and veal chop ($19*). We ordered the rockfish which comes with a side of spaghetti and the broiled flounder which came with a small plate of homemade meat ravioli. All were excellent. The vegetables were steamed and crisp. My wife decided to try the homemade tiramisu for dessert. I am not a dessert fan, but this was worth tasting and enjoying.
The restaurant is nicely decorated, with clean, large bathrooms. The clientele tends toward adults, although there were some children there. The seasoning is subtle and not overwhelming. By all measures Il Porto is an excellent restaurant. When we were only half through the meal my wife and I agreed that we would return frequently. While not in walking distance from the Kentlands, it is an easy 5 mile drive.
*Please note! Maryland 20878® has no connection with any of the restaurants reviewed. Prices and hours are listed as a convenience and are accurate as of the date of review, but may have changed at any time. Consider the prices to be an indication of roughly what dinner might cost at the establishment.
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