Located in the heart of Vieux-Quebec, on the corner of St-Jean and Couillard Streets, this is a friendly Italian bistro where a party is always in the ... More
Located in the heart of Vieux-Quebec, on the corner of St-Jean and Couillard Streets, this is a friendly Italian bistro where a party is always in the air. Pasta and pizza are the favourites on the menu—in total, there are 20 varieties of homemade pasta and 30 varieties of pizza from which to choose. The restaurant is a great place for a business lunch or for a pleasant dinner, but do not expect peace and quiet. Portofino is all about having a good time with great people and great food, all night long.
My Girlfriend demanded pasta and we'd read an ad in our "hotel literature" that claimed Portofino was awarded "Best Italian Restaurant in Quebec since (depuis) 1994(5?)," so we asked the concierge to call and reserve a table.
Arriving at Portofino, the first thing we noticed was the warm glow of the pizza oven, the second thing was how absolutely packed the tables are in the room and how packed the tables were with clients, and the third thing was the gaudy, tasteless F1 flags covering every inch of the ceiling, and then there was the smell, yes the surprising smell--coming from the kitchen, but more on that later .
The wine list offers a very nice selection of Italian, and some new world, wines--on average these seemed to cost about 400% more than the same wines sell for at the government store, the SAQ! We'd had aperitifs earlier, so we opted for a tiny carafe of the house red ($23.00 approx, same wine at the SAQ--$4.75!). The server brought a basket of what would be described as well-aged bread, so well aged, in fact, that we were unsure what to do with those odd shaped pieces of stale and hard sponge.
My friend ordered spaghetti bolognese and got a wee, tiny bit of perfectly cooked pasta drowned in a whole lot of "tin-canny" meat sauce; I ordered lasagna and got--mercifully--about the same amount of Portofino lasagna laced with a similar tinny sauce. The whole experience was made worse by the smell of way, way too old fish (I love fish, BTW), bargain brand canned tomatoes, and dirty cooking oil wafting from the kitchen. Yum!
There is more, Portofino offers the hungry traveler many other surprises as well. For instance, the couple beside us ordered the "Table-de-hotel", and even though we didn't taste their food, we could tell by the head shaking and their looks of disbelief when they tasted their food that they too were very surprised, indeed.
Finally, you can make better, more flavorful, less tongue-stinging lasagna or spaghetti by simply popping a frozen box of Michelina's in the microwave. I will always remember this place, and I can assure you that those people filling the tables and chairs in this bustling bistro last Saturday night are not--NONE OF THEM--regular (dining) customers. Quebec City has many, many good, even some great restaurants; Portofino is not among either group. Stay away, very far away.
Went for dinner and was told 15 minutes wait. 50 minutes later and other people who arrived after us was seated, we were no where closer to being seated. No explanation given nor any attempts to make us feel welcome. It felt like a shi-shi club that selects who gets in or not.
Will never try there again!
August 2007. We were looking for an italian place that had more than pizzas in the old city, but still pizzas in the menu because of a picky son. There was a waiting line, but the menu looked okay. The place has many tables, but we were expecting some rush-rush service given the waiting line. The food was great, the service was good and we haven't been rushed to eat quickly. We happened to sit close to where the boss was, and he gave us quite a good entertainment. We will go back, that is for sure.