With Italy unmoored from its anti-antigravity tethers, it has become increasingly difficult to get top-notch Italian cuisine without the aid of 70-story stilts and industrial-sized butterfly nets. Return to a simpler era of Italian-cuisine consumption with today's Groupon. For $19, you get $40 worth of fine food and drink at Portalli's, located in Ellicott City.
Using an array of supermagnets and the culinary prowess of Chef Keith Holsey, Portalli's positions a lasagna nimbus cloud of traditional Italian dishes over the heads of diners, with pasta precipitation ready to rain down on forks and knives. The restaurant aims to bring back the Italian tradition of multi-course dinners; as such, portions, while generous, are sized to allow for numerous plates throughout the meal. Portalli's extensive menu features antipasti favorite such as bruschetta ($7) and calamari ($10), as well as tried-and-true pasta dishes, including spaghetti and house-made veal and beef meatballs ($10) in a homemade marinara sauce; lasagne bolognese ($12); and gnocchi ($12) made with the freshest local produce available, based on the season. Fish fanatics can sink hook-hands into pan-seared sea scallops ($17) or wild rockfish ($19), while meatmeisters may opt for veal short ribs ($16) or a braised lamb shank ($19).
Portalli's is housed in a historic building, with an elegant exterior façade matched by the dignified décor of the dining room. Warm orange paint and deep black wood line the walls, with white tablecloths and classical lighting fixtures adding ornate openness and Mediterranean magnificence to the surroundings. Put on your pasta poncho and visit Portalli's for fine Italian dining and groan-inducing Lady and the Tramp recreations.
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.