The blonde wood paneling and walls of windows thrown open to the sea-enriched air make the interior of Porto Bello look more like an enchanting island retreat than an Italian and American eatery. The menu, however, keeps the experience firmly grounded in the old world, with such delights as braised short ribs in green onion crepes, gnocchi, and chicken marsala. The chefs embrace local flavors, as well, with Cajun-spiced shrimp and the catch of the day, an ever-changing helping of fresh Gulf fish.
More than 20 years ago, Rich and Deana Citrola opened Citrola's Italian Grill & Pizzeria in Times Square. Today, they oversee the operation of three different locations, but their customers can still count on the same traditional pastas and pizzas they've enjoyed all these years. The chefs toss pizza dough and roll calzones by hand, sealing both with house-recipe sauce. The bread for their sub sandwiches is baked fresh every day, and the pasta dishes sate appetites with classic iterations, such as linguini with clams and penne with vodka-cream sauce.
Chris and Michelle Lussier learned some of their most important lessons from their grandparents—techniques for cooking meatballs so they are plump and flavorful, the proper amount of garlic to use in homemade sauces, and how to manage a family-style restaurant with both efficiency and warmth. The duo and their chefs have been whipping up Italian specialties in their cheerful neighborhood eatery for nearly a decade, from creamy pastas to plump calzones. They speckle their pizzas with gourmet toppings, such as barbecue chicken and tender steak.