Al Porto – Walk on the cobbled sidewalks into Italy

The other day, my honey surprised me with a reservation in downtown at 7 pm. The reservation was not a surprise, but the sudden dine-out was, as we usually decide on a day beforehand if we are going somewhere nice. Needless to say, I was rather excited and when I asked what sort of food we will be having, he replied, “Um.. their people use hand gestures a lot.” It was a funny hint, but I knew instantly there’d be Italian food on my plate.

The restaurant he took me was in Gastown and called Al Porto. It it at 321 Water Street Vancouver B.C. V6B 1B8. Check out their website for more info!

(Photo taken from their website.)

Al Porto is somewhat hidden in an alleyway and you’ll need to step on cobblestone before entering, but once you do, you’ll instantly feel like you are in Italy. The interior is warm and inviting, with a cozy feeling – much like someone’s home, except it is super spacious (maybe a rich Italian person’s home?). Click here if interested in pictures.

Our meal started with two types of bread. Focaccia bread and some other kind bread. Both really delicious but not hot and fresh from an oven, so that made me a little sad. Oh well, texture of the bread was great and I can’t complain since it’s free.

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For appetizer,  I had the Insalada catanese. It’s a nice salad that had romaine, cucumber, red onion, tomato, black olives, peppers, olive oil, and feta. I dislike olives and forgot to tell the server to not include it in my salad but oh well. Perfect amount dressing and a great assortment of veggies. Loved the feta cheese.

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My honey ordered the soup of the day and it was an eggplant soup. Google translate tells me it is Zuppa di melanzane, haha.. anyone who knows Italian care to confirm this? Anyways, to be honest, I don’t like eggplant either (yes, I was a finicky eater as a child) but this soup was so delicious that couldn’t help but help myself to more than just a sample. It was bursting of flavour and had a sort of meat sauce consistency.. pretty awesome.

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For main, I decided on the Canadese pizza it had everything I loved on it. Mozzarella, mushroom, pepperoni, salami, red pepper, onion  and oregano.. it is rather simple but the pizza crust just simply can’t be beat. Fresh and hot, crunchy but also chewy, thin where all the toppings laid on.. it was really addictive. The tomato sauce was super delicious and while there was ample of cheese but not too much like American pizza and thus, letting the flavours of the toppings shine. The pizza was huge too, I don’t think many girls could finish one alone, haha.

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For main, my honey ordered the Linguine pescatore, which is seafood linguine.  WOW. As expected of  Vancouver, the seafood was phenomenally fresh. I recall my partner saying that the mussel in his dish was the biggest and juiciest he’s ever had. Prawns, mussels, clams, squid, scallops, salmon, halibut.. EVERYTHING was cooked to perfection and the sauce, seasoned carefully. The fish melts in your mouth, the prawns explodes (from being too juicy) upon being bitten.. the works. It was like having the whole ocean on your plate.

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If you dine at Italian restaurants often, seeing creme brulee, tiramisu or gelato over and over again doesn’t really excite you very much. So for dessert, we opted for a dessert wine, Asti (can’t remember specific name). It was a superb choice as we were both already stuffed and the wine itself was such a treat. Sweet and not tart at all.. even those who dislike wine/alcohol may enjoy this.

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Their food grabbed a pizza my heart, but sadly, not their service. (Not sorry about the pun at all.) While the servers were not impolite, they were rather inattentive. When we finished our appetizer and were waiting for our main dish (which, mind you, was a pretty long time), no one came over to give us more water, ask us if we wanted more bread, or tell us that the food is coming on it’s way. In addition, since we were seated in a farther location, it was hard to get a server’s attention. I understand that the place is spacious, but it was a non-busy Monday night with only a few other tables full of people, in total probably taking up 1/5 of the restaurant.. I truly hope service isn’t like this normally.

I give this place a 8/10 (food was just THAT good). Would of given them full marks if the service was better though.

Perhaps next dine!

Tastefully yours,
Shiina Mint


2 thoughts on “Al Porto – Walk on the cobbled sidewalks into Italy

  1. I went to this place with my sister 2 years ish ago. It was so cozy and cute! The food was delicious too. and we had a groupon ;) I’m so hungry just looking at these pictures!

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