By Hiranmayii Awli Mohanan


Since its establishment in 2014, Portofino has expanded from its flagship restaurant in Lucky Garden to the beaming outpost at The Sphere, Bangsar South. A cosy, welcoming ambience with floor-to-ceiling windows, sprawling dining area, homey bar and beautiful mural depiction of Venice become Portofino. The restaurant’s eponymous name pays homage to the small, tiny sea village of Portofino that draws celebrities and wanderlusters alike — bringing a piece of Italy to Malaysia.

With true-blue Italian chefs Keli and Luca at the helm of Portofino, the flair and flavours are a journey throughout northern Italy. Get comfortable at the ristorante’s breezy al-fresco seating to truly feel like you’re basking in the sun along the Amalfi Coast. Fresh, good quality ingredients (wine, cheeses and flour imported from the motherland) and authenticity make Portofino the stellar restaurant it is. Eating here is a full evening’s entertainment; one that runs the gamut from incredible to comforting.

We started the gastronomic voyage with the Sicilian Arancini — crispy, deep- fried saffron balls that unveiled stuffed mozzarella and mushrooms upon digging in. Palates whetted and in anticipation, we were presented with Portofino’s pride and joy — the glorious and utterly addictive homemade pastas. There are plenty to choose from, but we gravitated towards the Spaghetti with Pesto and Scallops, which deserved songs of praise. A generous home-drawn plateful of spinach spaghetti was bathed in a homemade pesto sauce with mushrooms and topped with pan- seared scallops marinated in paprika and olive oil — a testament to the prowess of the head chef.

Another relishing pasta basking in its simplicity was the Squid Ink Seafood Ravioli, with light tomato sauce served atop. The gentle teasing of a fork and knife revealed sautéed prawns and barramundi fish faithful to the complexities of Italian flavours. Something heftier called for Portofino’s divine Scallops and Zucchini Risotto which we quickly became besotted with. The fragrant risotto was a treat for the senses, cooked with sautéed scallops, zucchini, parmesan and pesto.

When in Rome, you do as the Romans. Portofino’s forte (besides its pasta), are the homemade, Roman-style 12 inch and thin-crust pizzas that feel light on the palate yet bursting with piquancy. The flamboyant Four Seasons Pizza is one for sharing, boasting varied toppings including turkey ham, medley of mushrooms, grilled chicken and sun-dried tomatoes on a bed of tomato sauce. Seal the deal with the crowd favourite Tiramisu, swathed in zabaglione and mascarpone over a coffee-soaked cake.

Address: Portofino Bangsar South *Italian cuisine *Comfort food *Casual dining (pork free)
                 No. 1, Avenue 1 Bangsar South City,
                 59200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel:          016-697 9741

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