Italian cuisine was born when, after building the city of Rome, Romulus and Remus discovered Greece didn’t deliver to their new address. Taste the origins of an empire with today’s Groupon: for $75, you get a four-course Italian dinner for two with a bottle of wine at Portalli’s in Ellicott City (up to a $151 value). Dinner includes:
- One antipasto dish (up to a $13 value)
- Two salads (up to a $7 value each)
- Two pasta, fish, or meat entrees (up to a $23 value each)
- One dessert (up to an $8 value)
- One bottle of select red or white wine (a $70 value)<p>
Portalli’s celebrates traditional Italian dining with a menu of classic preparations that appeal to families and discerning foodies alike and service that earned praise from Richard Gorelick of the Baltimore Sun. Parties can warm up jaw muscles with a quartet of oysters romano singing savory dirges of garlic cream seas beneath a broiled layer of parmesan, crispy pancetta, and caramelized leeks. The Portalli salad hosts poached pears atop baby greens; lettuce-less caprese salads shuffle beefsteak tomatoes and basil into a house-made deck of fresh mozzarella slices. Pasta savants can fill their plates with meaty lasagna bolognese or gnocchi, which arrives to tables adorned with seasonal local produce. Teeth can then tear into a tender flatiron steak simmering beneath a dijon-peppercorn sauce or a broiled-crab-and-saffron risotto cake in which crustaceans sate stomachs with roasted peppers. Talented wine stewards select a bottle from Portalli’s Italian-inspired list to match intended entrees and diners’ eyes with splashes of red or white. For a sweet finale, play peekaboo with the cannoli duo’s dollops of fluffy ricotta as they peep temptingly from a pair of rolled pastry shells.
Portalli’s interior swathes guests in stylish comfort with a warm mauve palette, slits of sunlight streaming in through windows in the ceiling, and ornate sconces spaced along the walls. Gaggles of diners chuckle and trade theories about the origins of the first human pyramid over crisp white tablecloths and ebony dining chairs.
Portalli's Chef Keith Holsey portions his dishes according to the traditional Italian four-course meal. This doesn't stop the chef from crafting a menu of creatively interpreted Italian classics, though, such as Cioppino over fettuccine or Salmon con Granchio. Chef Holsey's creations consist of uncomplicated flavors that, according to the Baltimore Sun, allow "good and simple ingredients to work together." Portalli's also caters to families with dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or meatball flatbread pizza, which teaches kids about fractions so they don't have to learn about them on the street.