Good traditional Italian foods are what I was hungry for one day recently. As most of you would suspect, I headed out to one of the Disney World restaurants.
This day I found one of the Disney restaurants “best kept secrets”. I am here to expose it to you! I had heard that it was not open yet but believe me IT IS OPEN and running full steam to prepare some of the most delicious food from Italy.
We were greeted at the front door of the PORTOBELLO Restaurant by General Manager, Dana Lewis. His charm and southern hospitality won us over immediately. We all agreed if we were not even looking for a place to dine, we still would have been enticed to check out the traditional Italian foods at this restaurant. After entering the restaurant, we were able to meet Chef Steve and other staff members. All shared that warm hospitality and eagerness to please the customers.Learn more about Portobello's menu.
Portobello is located between Pleasure Island and the Marketplace at Downtown Disney. To all of my friends reading, both locally and around the world who might be visiting the area, Portobello restaurant is a little tucked back so make sure you don’t miss this one. One thing nice about eating at Downtown Disney, you can park close to the restaurants. If you are tired after a hard day, you can just stop by for a nice dinner of traditional Italian foods without having to do a lot of walking.
The extensive authentic Italian food menu offers something for everyone. The flavor of these traditional Italian foods served at Portobello is enhanced by the top quality ingredients gathered from near and far, such as the special extra virgin olive oil and the delicious cheeses. I was amazed at the intricate details given to the production of each dish. The simplicity of the recipes plus the finest ingredients available plus the preparation details equals one of the finest dining experiences you will have. The price range of traditional Italian foods from the large dinner menu starts at $9.95 for a pizza and goes to $39.95 for filet mignon so you see there is something for everyone.Try making an Italian pizza at home.
We were seated and then our hostess, (another) Dana introduced herself and took our drink order. After being served our drinks, fresh roasted garlic cloves were delivered to our table (pictured above). What great flavor and a good butter substitute for our bread. I had a feeling it would be the lowest thing in calories that I would have all day.
ROASTED GARLIC AT PORTOBELLO
Cut off the top part of the garlic bulb using a serrated knife. Mix garlic with the oil coating the garlic completely. Place garlic cut side up in a four inch deep pan. Fill pan with enough water to cover the garlic halfway. Cover the pan with a lid. Place in the oven at 325F degrees. Cook until garlic is soft and light brown, approximately two hours. Remove from pan and serve with your favorite fresh bread.
Dana reviewed the entire menu of traditional Italian foods with us. Her knowledge of each specialty ingredient used as she described the dishes impressed me to the point of me asking her how that is. Her simple answer was, “I like good food”. I can relate to her because that is how I am. I want to know all the details! To my good friends Sandy and Dave and other readers who have allergies and health conditions this is for you. Portobello offers dishes that are gluten free and nut free. They will assist you with any special diet needs, if you request.
Soon we received a large tray with a selection of Italian appetizers (pictured above), which make great Italian finger foods, from the menu. The Crostini sampler, the Caprese salad, calamari rings, Portobello mushrooms sliced over polenta, and Sambuca shrimp. When asked which we liked the best, there was just no answer. Each was different but delicious. I will say that the oven baked tomatoes on the crostini and served with some of the dishes are just simply delicious. I was also pleased to try something for the first time. The caper berries are brought in from Morocco. I will describe them as looking like a small pepper, a mild spicy and a little seedy tasting but magnificent flavor. If you have a chance to taste the berry, it is a must.
After all of this you might ask, “Why order more”? Well the truth is by now we are really curious about the rest of the menu. We ordered Black linguine (cooked in a clam base) with shrimp, tomatoes and asparagus and flavored with garlic (pictured left). Rigatoni calabrese with sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives and escarole was our second choice.
We also wanted to try the Chicken sandwich (pictured right)from the lunch menu which sounded delicious with the pesto, cheeses, spinach all wrapped in a dough and baked. This was served with fresh homemade chips. Of course, we all sampled all of them. Unfortunately (calorie speaking) all the dishes were wonderful tasting. (Just for the record, we did not eat it all; we packed it to go home!)
The following is a free Italian food recipe for you to try from Portobello (pictured right). This was my selection so let me know how you like it.
This is basically a pasta and sausage recipe with other rich ingredients in traditional Italian foods style at Portobello Restaurant, a Downtown Disney Restaurant. It is delicious!
Cook pasta in at least 1 gallon of salted water until just under done. Prepare sauce while pasta cooks (about 10 minutes). In a very large skillet sauté’ sausage in olive oil until brown. Add mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add tomato, escarole and olives and cook for 1 minute more. Add butter, and season with salt and pepper. When pasta is slightly under done add to sauce. Stir and cook briefly until pasta is done and the dish comes together. Serve in 4 pasta bowls or on a platter for family style.
I will continue next week with more traditional Italian foods from the Italian food menu at the Portobello Restaurant. I will tell you about the beverage list and all the delicious desserts that we ate. I will share with you more great Italian recipes provided by Portobello.
We do thank all the wonderful staff at Portobello for sharing their recipes and their kindness.