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 $20, you get $40 worth of fine food and drink at Portalli's, located in Ellicott City, approximately 12 miles west of downtown Baltimore.
Using an array of supermagnets and the culinary prowess of Executive 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; vegetable lasagne ($10); 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 ($16) or poached sea bass ($20), while meatmeisters may opt for veal short ribs ($16) or a braised lamb shank ($18). In addition to a savory selection of cocktails ($6.50+), Portalli's also offers numerous Italian wines available by the glass and by the bottle, with Portalli's servers specially trained in the twin arts of wine-matching and mine-watching.
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.
The Baltimore Sun gives Portalli's a positive review. Portalli's has a perfect five star average rating from four Citysearchers and is a Diner's Choice winner on OpenTable where it gets a 3.8 out of five star overall rating.
- Some of these dishes are described, at the table, as American versions of Italian classics, which makes sense enough. What wasn't entirely conveyed was that Portalli's portions and prices have been calibrated small enough to encourage diners to make a traditional, Italian-style, four-course meal. – Richard Gorelick, Baltimore Sun
- My wife and I have been here a number of times and we took 4 guest [sic] this time. They all thought that the place was outstanding. The food was both unique and well prepared. – An OpenTable.com user who dined on 09/29/2010
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.