Tonight was second night of Restaurant week and, because of other commitments it was the second of the 3 restaurants I chose this week. Tonight was Il Portico in 1500 Block of Walnut St.
I had never been there before but knew them as the upscale branch of Tiramisu, the Sephardic Italian restaurant on 5th St near South (which I have been to, but not for maybe 10 years.).
If I had to compare it to the Italian Steak House Davios from last night, Id say better food, poorer service.
Our reservation for 2 was for 6:30 and the street level bar was empty except for 3 hostesses waiting to check coats. The dining room, which is up a flight, had one table filled with two businessmen. By the time we left (nearly 9pm because we WANTED to talk and were not in a hurry), the restaurant had a party of 6 businessmen, a party of 4 and two more parties of two. I asked one of the hostesses if they had any cancellations and she said a ton of them. They are pretty booked, but not fully, through Thursday and fully booked for Friday.
The normal menu is Italian based with appetizer and salad and pasta and meat and fish courses. The RW menu is not posted on RW site and surprised us. The first course is a choice of a green salad ($7.95 on menu), A Caesar Salad ($9.95 on menu) and Smoked Salmon Carpaccio ($12.95 on the menu). We chose the two different salads that were substantial but certainly not worth $9.95 for my Caesar. By the way, we were served fresh grilled Pita bread with the olive oil (strange for Italian Restaurant but delicious).
The entree courses consisted of two different Gnocchi dishes (for vegetarian) ($17.95 on menu). A Chicken dish (I forgot menu price), A Veal medallion with mushrooms in a marsala type sauce ($24.94 on menu) and a Combination Seafood (which was not on regular menu). All dishes except the Gnocchi came with three vegetables (per the waiter). Roasted potatoes, sautéed zucchini and sautéed endive (really quite good). So we were unable to judge the pasta because we wanted protein. My dining partner ordered the veal which was very substantial in size and well prepared. I had the seafood that was fantastic! It was a strange combination of piece of Red Snapper, A piece of Salmon, A scallop, two calamari, a langostino and one shrimp sautéed in a white wine sauce with diced tomatoes, covered with bread crumbs and topped with one mussel. It was quite substantial.
For dessert we each received a sampler plate with a small crème brulee, a wedge of Amaretto Cheesecake with raspberry sauce and a small tiramisu (which had the usual Marscapone Cheese inside but a dollop of sweetened ricotta on top!
Now as to service. We both agreed that it was perfunctory at best. There we either 2 or three waiters (I cant remember which) and one busboy. After taking our order and delivering the food, it was a good 15 minutes before we saw waiter again and he asked how everything was. My partners water glass remained empty for nearly 10 minutes before I had to ask for a refill. Based on the upscale- ness and its connection with Tiramasu, I expected waiters with a continental flair or Italian accest. We had a waiter who, while dressed professional referred to my female dining partner as guys as in Guys, in case you didnt know this is crème brulee and tiramisu. It reminded me a waiter at Mortons or Ruths Chris rather than an Italian restaurant. Actually, there was little of the furnishing or decor that said Italian, though I think I heard Dean Martin crooning on the sound system which seemed to increase in volume or fade away during the meal.
We did not order wine based on comments I heard about the exhoritent wine prices they charge. I can't confirm that, but figured it was the food we were there to enjoy, which we did.
That said, we agreed it was certainly worth the $30.00 price fixe, though at normal menu prices, there is little reason to return. As an added note, no mention was made about validated parking and we were not provided with the Center City District $8.00 parking vouchers which were given to us last night at Davios and were to be given out at all the restaurants.
If youve got reservations this week, by all means go (and go for the Seafood and Veal.). It should be more crowded on other nights and then you can judge the nose level.
Thursday is the third dinner and we are doing Brasserie Perrier with Susan H and her husband, so youll get two distinct CH posts on that one!